Sandwich signs on council's menu Halstad proposal would set out rules

September 13, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

An ordinance that would regulate sandwich signs on Westminster sidewalks is expected to be introduced at the City Council meeting tonight.

Councilman Damian Halstad, who suggested the regulations about a month ago, said he plans to formally introduce an ordinance that would allow Public Works Director Thomas B. Beyard to approve the signs on a case-by-case basis.

The 30-day permit, modeled after one that allows store owners to place merchandise on the sidewalks, would be automatically renewed if a merchant followed the regulations.

"Unless he [Mr. Beyard] pulls it, it renews in 30 days and continues to be renewed," Mr. Halstad said. "I think it will be more favorably received [than a month ago]."

At that time, one council member supported the idea and the other three were opposed. Mr. Halstad said several council members have since reconsidered their positions, particularly after Heinz Luesse of Heinz Cake and Gift Haus at 40 W. Main St. appealed the decision.

Mr. Luesse had been warned that his small sandwich sign advertising coffee and doughnuts violated the city's sign

ordinance.

"Mr. Luesse made a pretty compelling presentation," Mr. Halstad said.

Currently, sandwich board-type signs are not allowed within city limits. Sidewalk-sale permits require merchants to keep the areas clean and contain sale items to the front of a store. Merchandise also may not spread out farther than five feet onto the sidewalk from a store front.

Mr. Luesse's sandwich sign is necessary because the trees in front of his bakery have grown so large that they cover his building signs, Mr. Halstad said.

"He has brought his particular sign to the council, and it is tasteful," Mr. Halstad said. "I think it would be nice."

"We allow people to put items out for sale, and I'm not sure how this is different," said Councilman Kenneth Yowan.

"Obviously, you can over-regulate things. If you don't allow items to be put out, and you don't allow [sandwich] signs, it can look a little too sterile. I think this adds a little character."

Merchants selling items on the sidewalk have generated few complaints, Mr. Beyard said.

"I can't think of very many, and those types of things usually stick in my mind," he said.

Residents who do complain usually say a display looks junky, items are spread in front of other stores or they couldn't open car doors, Mr. Beyard said.

"We do follow-up inspections and random inspections," he said. "Obviously we give people a chance. We tell them there's a problem and give them a chance to correct it. That's the only fair way to go about it."

Six Westminster merchants currently have permits to place merchandise on the sidewalk:

Anthony Gatta of Timely Gifts at 30 W. Main St., Lorraine Vanleeueven and Deb Teramoni of Seven East at 7 E. Main St., Raymond M. Reed of Record and Book Heaven at 25 E. Main St., Andy Lucas and David Dix of Main Street Station at 6 W. Main St., Jean Shank of Carroll Hall at 181 E. Main St. and Michael Klein of House of Antiques and Collectibles at 40 W. Main St.

The city's file contains letters to Mr. Luesse and Mr. Klein informing them that their businesses violated the city code on Aug. 28.

Bart Myers, the city code enforcement inspector, said he noticed Mr. Luesse's sandwich sign that morning. Mr. Klein's merchandise surrounded the parking meters in front of his store, and made it difficult for people to get in and out of their cars, Mr. Myers' letter said.

Neither merchant was fined, according to the file.

At tonight's meeting, the council also intends to discuss left-turn traffic lanes on East Main and Center streets, introduce an amended rules of order and procedure for council meetings and accept deeds for the Cranberry Square water and sewer mains.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Westminster Fire Hall on East Main Street.

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