2004-12-11 / Top News

City To Clamp Down on Excessive Awning Ads

By Ryan Schlehuber

The City is preparing to clamp down on excessive advertising on awnings attached to buildings. The City is discussing allowing only the business’s name and logo on awnings, like this Edward’s Gifts example.
The City is preparing to clamp down on excessive advertising on awnings attached to buildings. The City is discussing allowing only the business’s name and logo on awnings, like this Edward’s Gifts example. Businesses using sandwich boards and promoting services on awnings may soon be required to remove them as the city’s ordinance committee seeks to restrict outdoor advertising. Meeting Thursday, September 23, the committee agreed that some advertising on the exterior of buildings is excessive.

The City is concerned that many businesses are using the available space on their awnings for advertising on the exterior of their buildings. The City has made efforts, through its sign ordinance, to limit the amount of exterior display and advertising of merchandise, and of the business itself, to protect the aesthetics of the Island’s historic allure.

The advertising on this downtown awning is considered to be excessive by the City, as the middle part of the awning advertises breakfast, lunch, ice cream, and shakes.
The advertising on this downtown awning is considered to be excessive by the City, as the middle part of the awning advertises breakfast, lunch, ice cream, and shakes. “There are too many ads, especially on the drops,” said Mayor Margaret Doud.

Drops are the lower trim on awnings. Advertisements on these drops may include words like “Popcorn,” “Breakfast,” “Muffins,” “Coffee,” or “Fudge.”

The City wants to strengthen its Sign and Outdoor Display Ordinance, adopted in 1998. Businesses were given a five-year phase-in period that expired last year. City officials agree that it is now time to go further in enforcing the ordinance.

“We’re limiting outside advertisement for aesthetic reasons,” explained alderman and ordinance committee member Michael Hart. “We would like to keep the visual appearance of the Island clean.”

City attorney Tom Evashevski, participating in the meeting via telephone, suggested the City allow only the business’s name and logotype on awnings.

The consensus of the committee is to eliminate temporary free-standing signs, or sandwich boards, which Mr. Dombroski said are considered obstruction hazards on sidewalks.

No formal action took place at the meeting. The committee will continue discussion at a future meeting.

Other issues the committee briefly discussed included the proposed rental housing code, regulating luggage carts owned by boat companies, zoning issues pertaining to allowing off-season roll-up doors, and policing residents who are illegally renting their houses in a non-rental zoning district.

Rental Properties Inspections Begin

The rental housing code, which governs all rental properties, including hotel rooms, employee housing, and rental homes, is ready for Council review now, said Mr. Evashevski, however, the ordinance committee may make one final review of it beforehand to determine when inspections would be made.

The committee agreed that inspections for city and state safety codes would be a hardship for everyone during the busy summer months. For now, until the ordinance is adopted and a regular inspection schedule is set up, the City is seeking rental businesses that would like to volunteer for inspection.

Two volunteers were inspected this fall, and another two are awaiting inspection.

Police Chief Bill Lenaghan, Fire Chief Dennis Bradley, and Building Inspector Dennis Dombroski comprise the city’s inspection team.

“These inspections are not to find violations, but rather to be sure the housing units meet health, safety, and welfare standards for those living in or occupying them,” said Mr. Dombroski.

The committee agreed there should be no surprise inspections except in a case where a complaint is filed with the city. If a violation is found, said Chief Lenaghan, the City will give that employer or tenant time to fix the problem and the City will then do a follow-up inspection.

City Discusses Use of Off-season Roll-up Enclosures

Questions of aesthetic standards have been raised since the Planning Commission, at its regular meeting September 14, allowed Ryba Properties to install a roll-up enclosure to cover the entrance to Orphan Corner Mall on Main Street. Mr. Evashevski told the ordinance committee that it needs to come to an agreement as to whether this should be allowed or if there is a better alternative.

Ryba Properties used sheets of plywood to cover the entrance in the past.

Mr. Evashevski said the architectural review does not address such issues for the off-season.

“We’re going to have to get our story straight on this,” he said.

The committee will meet this winter to discuss regulating luggage carts owned by ferry companies. The City wants to restrict people from pushing loaded luggage carts through congested downtown traffic. Garden carts would be exempt.

The committee briefly discussed the problem of a few residents in residential areas renting their homes or part of their homes to visitors, which is against the city’s zoning and building codes. It is looking further into the idea of appointing an ordinance officer to issue citations when such laws are broken, to avoid possible conflicts of interest with local police or the city’s building inspector.

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