First of Large Signs Coming Downs

Larry Sharpe’s BP sign will soon conform to new rules. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

Larry Sharpe’s BP sign will soon conform to new rules. (Photo/Barbara Ball)

BLYTHEWOOD – The big signs are coming down. In response to a town ordinance passed in 2009 to require all signs in the town to conform to new standards by the year 2016 (high-rise interstate signs by 2020), Larry Sharpe Jr. presented plans to the Board of Architecture Review (BAR) Monday night for replacing nonconforming signs at his family’s businesses – the 25-foot BP sign at the Doko Express service station on Main Street and the 15-foot sign at the Exxon service station at Blythewood Road and the McNulty Road extension, across from the Waffle House.

Sharpe told the BAR members that the signs would be replaced with 8-foot conforming monument style signs. Because each sign advertises for two businesses on the respective sites, Sharpe is allowed 64 square inches of signage space per side for each sign instead of the 32 inches allowed for one business.

“We want to go ahead and get this out of the way,” Sharpe told members of the Board. “We’re ready to bring the sign down and conform with the ordinance.”

Robert Tobias, who owns the building where Blythewood Consignment is located, voluntarily removed a 25-foot sign from in front of that shop earlier this year.

The new ordinance goes into effect in January, at which time businesses whose signs do not conformed will be notified by Town Hall that they are in violation of the Town’s zoning code.

Last December, Mayor J. Michael Ross had expressed concern that the 2009 ordinance was too restrictive and might need to be tweaked to exempt existing nonconforming signs. Letters were sent out to businesses notifying them of the pending compliance requirement. The majority on Council, however, led by Councilman Bob Massa who has since retired from his Council seat, quashed the movement to relax the sign ordinance. There were no ensuing objections to the 2009 ordinance from business owners and only two churches sent representatives to the Town Council meeting with objections.

Michael Criss, the Town’s Planning Consultant, told The Voice that while many of the town’s signs are nonconforming, most are minor nonconformities. Among the most egregious offenders of the new ordinance are the large signs at Wendy’s, Waffle House, IGA, Pope Tire Company and the two signs Sharpe is replacing.

Because the BAR did not have a quorum on Monday, Sharpe’s sign application was discussed by those BAR members present but will not be voted on until Thursday when a special called meeting was scheduled.