Sandwich board sign challenge gains

February 15, 1994|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Sun Staff Writer

The Westminster merchant who challenged city sandwich board sign requirements won a round with the City Council last night.

The council overrode Councilman Edward S. Calwell's objections to introduce a rules change that will allow temporary letters on sandwich board signs placed on the sidewalk outside downtown businesses.

Council procedure is to introduce a measure, then take a second and final vote at a later meeting.

Raymond Reed, owner of a used book, antique and record store on East Main Street, argued last month against the requirement for permanent lettering on the signs.

The proposed new rule would say that letters must be "securely" fixed to the signs rather than permanently attached. City regulations also say that merchants wanting to change the text of the sign must file a request with City Hall. Restaurants, where specials may change daily, are exempted.

Mr. Reed said he could live with the requirement on changing the text, but he didn't understand the reason for it. "If I want to have a sale, I don't see why I can't put out 'Sale. 20 percent off this weekend,' " he said. But he said he hadn't changed the text since he put his first sandwich board sign out in August 1993.

Mr. Calwell predicted that the council will hear more appeals as business owners find that their signs don't meet the standards.

"There are going to be other merchants come in with other signs, short, tall, all variations. We're going to see more changes every time an appeal comes through," he said.

He said he would not wish to see the council rewrite its standards every time a standard is appealed.

Councilwoman Rebecca A. Orenstein did not vote last night because she was chairing the meeting in the absence of Council President Kenneth A. Yowan.

The council also agreed to consider a proposal by Mayor W. Benjamin Brown to ask all Westminster package goods stores to stop selling fortified wine and liquor in miniature bottles.

Mr. Brown initially proposed making the request only of the Rexall pharmacy on East Main Street, on the grounds that elimination of sales of the two alcohol items might reduce the number of people who loiter in the area.

Councilman Calwell argued that it would be discriminatory to target only one alcohol sales establishment.

Mr. Brown said he would draft a letter for council review.

Last night's session was the first meeting in the newly renovated council chamber.

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