Yikes! Spiderman is shrinking in Annapolis.
In a compromise to keep the web slinger in Maryland's capital, the owners of The Twilite Zone, a comic book shop that was threatened with $400-a-day fines for its larger-than life storefront poster of Spidey, have offered to give him a smaller profile.
Their plan to remove the almost life-size poster in return for a new logo was welcomed by the city's Historic District Commission, which had nixed the idea two years earlier.
Roger "Bumper" Moyer and Scott Hanna, both 28, have been frustrated by a series of confrontations with the commission over increasing their little shop's visibility with a Spiderman sign. Tucked on narrow Fleet Street, one block from City Dock, The Twilite Zone is often overlooked by tourists browsing downtown, they said.
"We do have the disadvantage of not being right on Market Place," agreed Sandra M. Coot, the owner of the two-story building that also houses a Native American art store and her jewelry shop. She proposed resolving the problem by replacing Spidey with a more discreet sign advertising "Fleet Street Shops."
At an informal meeting Tuesday night, the five-member historic commission gave a nod of approval to her proposed sign and did not voice any opposition to adding a small Spiderman logo to The Twilite Zone sign. Both Mr. Moyer and Mr. Hanna left the meeting feeling hopeful, although they said the commission had deemed a similar logo "unsuitable" in 1990.
"I think the ball's in motion," said Mr. Hanna. His partner agreed: "They seemed agreeable. They were friendly. At least they didn't hiss or spit."
The commission was established in 1969 to protect the historic atmosphere of the city's carefully restored Georgian architecture and red-brick streets. All construction downtown, from new buildings to picket fences, must receive the group's stamp of approval.
In recent years, fed-up residents and business owners have criticized the group's nit-picking and dubbed it "Hysterical Annapolis." Critics cited the battle over Spiderman an example of the commission's "petty bureaucracy."
The Twilite Zone owners claim the commission's initial refusal of their minor sign change turned into full-scale arachnophobia. In October, a stand-up Spiderman "mysteriously disappeared" after a commission member complained, they said. And last month, a zoning enforcement officer noticed the poster and sent off a letter threatening a stiff fine.
Annapolis prohibits all banners and posters except temporary ones.
The proposed wooden sign would be allowed under city code if it meets the dimension requirements, members of the historic commission said Tuesday.