City council members denied a request from St. James United Methodist Church to erect the six-foot-tall sign because it violates the city's sign ordinance.
According to the city's code, churches are allowed to have boards with changeable text, but they can't be electronic.
According to community development director Richard McLeod, who recommended denying the request, these changing signs have been shown to cause drivers to get distracted.
Council members were also concerned that allowing this variance to the code would set a precedent, allowing other properties in the city to have similar signage.
“Our churches … are really truly important to our community, but unfortunately because we can't differentiate under the law, we can't have [electronic signs] all up and down Highway 9 and Windward Parkway,” said Mayor David Belle Isle.
An official from the company hired to make the sign said the messages would not be flashing and distracting, but would be “low impact but still represent the message that the church is wanting to get out to the community.”
But council members were not convinced and voted unanimously to deny the request.
Councilman Chris Owens said the city would be happy to help the church get their message out while still abiding by the city code.