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COLUMBIA - They light up the night around Columbia. No they're not the stars in the sky and it's not the full moon. They are electronic message centers, commonly referred to as electronic signs that brighten streets and shopping centers around the city.

The most prominent one is located at Stadium and Broadway at the newly constructed A.W. Smith Law Firm. The bright, flashing sign is coming under fire for distracting drivers as they meander through Columbia at night.

On Thursday night, the Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission met to discuss the signs and how they will regulate the use of them. Impact Sign and Lighting Company provided the Planning and Zoning Commission with information regarding electronic signs through the Signage Foundation and the International Sign Association. These two groups advised that there are four key regulatory issues regarding electronic signs: message hold time, transition method, transition duration and brightness.

The information provided to the commission also disspelled myths that electronic signs will distract drivers and cause more accidents in the community.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will have six months to look into the signs and will hear from the public after the new year.