During Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Marion City Council approved new rules regulating electronic message signs.

The first such sign to appear in Marion was probably the one at McDonald’s on West Henderson Street. City Manager Bob Boyette said Marion now has five or six of them and other businesses and churches in town are interested in getting similar signs. Marion’s Planning Board recently worked to create some new rules for electronic message signs based on what other cities in western North Carolina have done.

Under the rules proposed by the Planning Board, the electronic message signs cannot flash or scroll. Some cities put a time limit on the changing messages which appear on the signs and the time limits vary from city to city in western North Carolina. Marion’s Planning Board recommended a one-minute time duration for the messages which change on the signs.

Some cities, such as Black Mountain, Valdese and Forest City, don’t allow electronic message signs at all.

“There’s really no right or wrong answer because it’s all across the board in western North Carolina,” said Boyette to the City Council.

Council members voted unanimously to accept the recommendations from the Planning Board and approve the new rules for the electronic message signs. Boyette said the city will seek to bring the existing signs into compliance too. “We’ll be in contact with these businesses and work with them,” he added.

In addition, council approved a rule which states that signs on residential properties in Marion can be no larger than 4 square feet.

In other business, the Marion City Council:

• Heard the quarterly report from the Marion Business Association. During the quarter of January through March, Marion saw 12 new businesses open and seven businesses close. Three businesses relocated. The MBA received eight business opportunity inquiries and two business loan inquiries. Three business grant inquiries and two property referrals inquiries were received. A total of 12 inquiries were received about façade grants.

• Reappointed Kit Alverson and Marc Cook to the city’s Planning Board. Joan Hensley was reappointed to the Tree Board and Nancy Clark was appointed to the Tree Board also. City officials are still looking for someone to fill the vacancy on the ABC Board which occurred due to the death of Bill Smith.

• Approved the final sale of city-owned property on North McDowell Avenue. The property, which is .18 of an acre, will be sold to Elaine Tassin for $1,500.

• Talked some more about improvements for the Community Building’s park. Council previously said that they wanted the work at the park to be done either before school is out for summer or after school is back in session. Due to the fact that the school year is almost over, the work will probably be done in September when students are back in school.

• Awarded the contract for the purchase of a chipper for the Sanitation Division. Council awarded the contract to J.P. Carlton of Spartanburg, S.C. which turned in the low bid of $27,600.

• Heard an update about the Wi-Fi system for downtown Marion. Boyette said the work to replace the aged and outdated Wi-Fi system will start in the next week or so. When completed, downtown Marion will have a wireless Internet system that will be faster and more reliable.