SPARTA-It took several months to accomplish, but local business owners have successfully convinced the Sparta planning board and council to allow the use of portable advertising signs. Last spring, the township council decided to enforce an ordinance banning business owners from placing portable signs outside their establishments. The legislation had been rarely enforced previously, however, it was thought by the council that the widespread practice was beginning to undermine the aesthetics of the township. Subsequently, many local merchants attended the next township council meeting to declare that the signs were vital to the operation of their business. At the request of the business owners, the council created a sub-committee comprised of local business leaders and planning board members to look for a compromise At Monday night's council meeting, the Sparta Township Planner, David Troast, explained some of the details of a proposed agreement. Under the new amendment, business owners wish to place a portable sign outside their stores will be required to purchase a license from the township. "It is similar to a license for a dog or cat or indoor vending machine," said Troast explaining that the licenses, which will cost $25, will need to be renewed on a yearly basis. In addition, the proposed legislation states that all portable signs must be placed at a minimum of 75 feet away from one another in multi-tenanted areas like the Sparta Town Square. According to Troast, signs will have to comply with strict guidelines which will be made public when the new ordinance is officially introduced to the council in early November. "They will all have a similar look," said Troast. Before the amendment is introduced next month, a copy of the legislation will be given to the local chamber of commerce so that local business owners can review it. "I believe we've hit the majority of people who had concerns about having and not having signs," said Troast. "I'm sure there are some people who don't want to see any signs, and others that want to see hundreds, but either extreme is not the answer."