BAR Finds ‘Hiccup’ in Sign Rule

BLYTHEWOOD (July 21, 2016) – The Board of Architectural Review granted a Certificate of Appropriateness Monday evening for a new sign at the Kellie Ballentine Allstate Insurance office at 162 Langford Road in downtown Blythewood. It also voted unanimously to grant Ballentine a variance because her new sign did not conform to the sign ordinance because of what Ballentine called a ‘hiccup’ in the ordinance.

It was during a review of Ballentine’s application for a new sign that Town Hall staff discovered that the Town’s current sign ordinance, Section 155.544 (C) (1), restricts the height of a sign in front of an historic structure to three feet. Ballentine, whose office is on the historic register, was requesting to replace her six-foot tall sign with a new sign of the same height. It was noted by the Board that other historic buildings in the town had been routinely granted the six-foot height.

“It’s amazing that the three-foot (height) limitation has been in the ordinance all this time and none of us noticed it,” Board Chairman Gale Coston said. “We’ve always approved the six-foot height (for historic sites) so that ‘hiccup’ surprised us, too.”

To remedy the oversight, the Board voted to recommend amending the wording in the sign ordinance to allow for signs in front of historic homes to be six feet in height. The ordinance will now go to Town Council, which will have two readings and a public hearing before the amended ordinance becomes effective.

Role of Advisor

According to the agenda, the Board had planned to discuss the role of their architectural advisor. But as the discussion began, it was decided to postpone the agenda item and move it into executive session at the August meeting. The Town’s Planning Consultant suggested the Chairman seek the advice of Town Administrator Gary Parker as to under which provision (of the Freedom of Information Act) that issue could be discussed in executive session.

Election of Officers

Because of the resignation of Chairman Michael Langston from the Board, members elected Gale Coston Chairman and Jim McLean Vice Chairman. Those seats will be effective until the end of the year when regularly scheduled elections are held for the Board.

 

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