Commission eyeing center's new signs Carrolltown design differs from original

September 22, 1993|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff Writer

Carrolltown Center owner R. Dixon H. Harvey Jr.'s colorful new signage at the mall is coming under close scrutiny by Carroll County's Planning and Zoning Commission.

Commission members were told yesterday they must approve a new sign plan for the center because the changes vary significantly from the mall's original design.

The three free-standing signs beside Route 26 each total more than 200 square feet in surface area, the maximum allowed by county zoning law for planned business centers.

"None of them exceeds the height requirements, and there are no setback problems," said George L. Beisser, the county's chief of zoning enforcement. "They just exceed the square footage per sign."

The sign changes were discovered when a county building inspector was checking progress on reconstruction of the mall's entrance, Mr. Beisser told the commission.

"The plans [for the entrance's building permit] showed the steel structure and the signs," he said. "The plans did not go through zoning because the permits office assumed it was exterior work."

Only planned business centers or shopping centers must get zoning commission approval for their sign plans, Mr. Beisser said.

The new building signs consist of yellow awnings with black and white striped trim, with "Carrolltown Center" in red letters above the awnings on an orange background.

Three tall blue panels above the letters will have the new logo in aqua.

Along the road, the existing free-standing signs have been shortened, and yellow 16 1/4 -by-4-foot panels with "Carrolltown Center" in red have been placed on top.

"A lot of it [the coloring] is to create elements that tie together" the street and building signs, Mr. Harvey said. "I have a lot of faith in my design team. They do know what they are doing."

The team -- King Design of Columbia and Cannon Associates of Baltimore -- have won national and international awards for their work.

Mr. Harvey also said he wants the signs to make the entrance more visible and bring attention to the mall.

"If nobody said anything, then we weren't doing our job," Mr. Harvey said.

Commission and county staff members spoke out strongly against the color scheme.

"I don't like the colors," said commission member Louis Pecoraro. "I think they are hideous."

K. Marlene Conaway, the county's assistant planning director, said, "It's not pretty. It goes back to the poor designs of the '50s that we've worked so hard for 40 years to get rid of."

Mr. Harvey acknowledged that customers and merchants have told him they don't like the colors.

But he said existing and prospective merchants have told him they like bringing attention to the entrance.

Several customer concerns, such as the red lettering being unreadable during the day, are being considered and corrected, Mr. Harvey said.

Commission members plan to visit the site before their meeting next month to gather information for a hearing about the sign sizes.

They also expect to approve the entire sign plan within the next few months.

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