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HORSESHOE BAY — An alliance of merchants is asking local officials to see the writing on the wall by changing restrictions that make business signs too small and indistinguishable, members say.

Most of the rules date back 30 years or more, when Horseshoe Bay was a lakeside resort and golf community, not a city busy with traffic on FM 2147, the main thoroughfare.

"All we’re asking for is an equal playing field where people who do business here can be recognized by the people driving by in a tasteful way," said Chris Sanders, owner of The Tall Texan, a restaurant.

Sanders and other members of the Horseshoe Bay Business Alliance met March 30 to discuss the sign restrictions, which they say make their shops virtually invisible to motorists.

The regulations allowed by the city and Architectural Control Committee keep businesses limited to only a few designs, colors and set up, they said.

Sanders just wants potential customers to know his restaurant is there, he said.

"Our frontage is our biggest asset and we’re unable to use that asset," he added.

Mayor Bill Lambert urged the members to continue offering their input.

"Get together and make some real live written recommendations on how you think they ought to be changed," he said. "I can’t guarantee anything after that, but I think that’s the way to proceed if you’re not happy with the sign situation."

The Architectural Control Committee was set up by one of the original Horseshoe Bay Resort developers and is separate from the city.

Alliance members gathered at A Taste of Thyme in the 7400 block of 2147 said they have asked the city and committee to consider changing the sign rules.

The city recently gave the alliance a glimmer of hope by suggesting city officials will review recommendations to the sign rules and also submit them to the Architectural Control Committee.

The city ordinances and deed restrictions regarding signs date back to the 1970s; officials said the last revisions occurred in 1985.

Alliance member Francie Dix said she understands the intent of the original developers to maintain a certain atmosphere and appearance. But holding businesses to a standard set in the 1970s may be a bit outdated, she said.

"What worked well in the ’70s may need to be revisited now to see if there are some adjustments or changes to bring us back in 30 years later and what the community needs, what the residents need and what the businesses need in order to maintain and even improve the quality of life here," she said.

Drew Crosby, an alliance member and manager of the local New York Life branch, said the alliance’s goal is to assist and promote businesses.

One issue is the sometimes different rules for signs under the city and the architectural committee.

"The architectural committee’s rules seem to be a little more stricter with their guidelines on colors and phone numbers," Crosby said. "Basically what we’d be looking at or asking for is the architectural committee and the city to have the same kind of guidelines so we could get a common, uniform set of directions for a common look throughout Horseshoe Bay."

Sanders said inconsistencies include some businesses with signs that have a splash of color, while others aren’t allowed to do that.