Proposed sign code changes debated by business owners
For the past year, the village board, the code enforcement office and the architectural review commission have been working on addressing issues with the existing sign ordinances within the village.
Supervising Code Enforcement Officer Kurt Allen gave a brief rundown on the proposed changes to the laws, including the hot topics of digital and A-frame (sandwich) sign definitions and signage in windows.
“Most of the amendments to the code are relaxing the standards from what they are now,” Allen said.
Kevin Beckwith, owner of Gear for Adventure presented folders to the board with before and after photographs of the village and a multi-page response to the proposed amendments, signed by 29 business owners and managers throughout the village.
“Multi-tenant buildings should be broken out of the restrictions of how many linear feet of signs there should be and how much signage there can be in the windows.
“Also the restriction of one perpendicular sign and one A-frame sign per parcel is unreasonable to multi-tenant signs,” Beckwith said.
“I live and die by my A-frame sign,” said Joe Pagano, owner of the Hair Loft in Staub Square. “I’m a slave to the A-frame, it is the only way anyone ever finds me.
“I’m upstairs and in the back of Staub Square and do not have the option for a window sign. All I have is an A-frame,” Pagano said.
Other concerns raised by the group included the verbiage under sign definition for window sign as “any sign visible from a sidewalk, street or other public place... or located inside in such a manner to be viewed from outside.”
Business owners point out that unless the windows are completely covered, a 50 percent sale sign inside the store on top of a rack could be seen from someone walking by on the sidewalk.
“It was that long ago that we had a village-plaza look,” said Randy Benton, owner of Main Street Ice Cream and president of the Village Business Advisory Council. “In four short years look how it has changed with business owners upgrading facades or rebuilding.
“There have been some major landscape changes in the village and now we have a walkable village. We are on the right path and the sign laws need to be fair to everyone.
“We all use the A-frame sandwich board signs because they work. People look for them, depend on them to see the specials. We wouldn’t use them if they didn’t work,” Fenton said.
Donna Omar, who is moving her business, Anytime Fitness, into the corner store of Staub Square, told the board she moved here because of the charm of the village and the different types of signs businesses use.
“I think you will lose the effect of the walkability of the village if you restrict this,” Omar said. “People enjoy the charm of the signs.
“I do not think open and closed signs and the listed hours of operation, should count as part of your total percentage of signage, and you are proposing that.
“This does not represent to us as being pro-business,” Omar said.
Another item of contention was the listed $250 per week fine and possibly time in jail for being non-compliant.
“The penalties for non-compliant signs is really over the top,” Beckwith said.
Mayor Tom Moses thanked the business owners for presenting their concerns in writing, as well as speaking up.
“I appreciate that you had a spokesperson and that it was written down,” Moses said.
“You are the people that make it happen. You are what helps this village be positive.
“We have had about $10-$12 million into this community over the past several years through the grants and the money from the business owners,” Moses said.
“We wanted more information before we will make a decision, that is why having this solid document from you is so important. That is why we are not voting on this today.”
The village board will continue to take written comments on the proposed changes of village signage standards until May 16.
Copies of the proposed changes are available at the village hall clerk’s office.
In other business, the board:
• Heard from Public Works Superintendent Marc Shuttleworth that milling work will begin May 15 on Crescent Avenue, Elizabeth Street, Henderson Street and Brendel Avenue on May 15.
Paving should begin in the first week of June, weather permitting, Shuttleworth said.
• Approved the site plan application, with conditions, from Daniel and Marilu Zorn for a seasonal, 18-hole outdoor miniature golf course at 349 Buffalo St., on the corner of Euclid Avenue.
• Approved the application for certificate of compliance for building design standards submitted by Buffalo Street Grill, for the installation of a permanent awning on the front of the building.
• Approved an animal and fowl permit for six months to allow for six chickens to be kept at 141 E. Union St.
The board next meets at 5:30 p.m. on May 21 for a work session followed by a 7 p.m. meeting.