The bureaucratic busy bodies in Warrenton launched a new crusade in their ongoing war against businesses and common sense.
According to FauquierNow, the town’s Architectural Review Board plans to start enforcing zoning ordinance rules on the sandwich boards many merchants and restaurants place in front of their businesses.
“Town officials began to focus on the issue in late July, after the ARB told Nationwide Insurance agency owner Melissa Hutcheson that she must remove her hanging sign at 81 Main St. The sign, made of composite — not wood, fails to comply with historic district guides.
“Ms. Hutcheson filed a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request to see town permits for 20 downtown sandwich boards. Those permits don’t exist.”
Bravo to Hutcheson for forcing the issue after her own run in with the town over the bullshit sign rules that made her perfectly well done and attractive sign illegal because of what is was made of.
Think about that for a minute. The sign came in at the proper size, proper color, etc., BUT was made out of a composite material instead of wood. Because, like, you know, composite material is from the devil or something. Jeez. OK so John S. Mosby didn’t use composite material, nor did Thomas Jefferson. However, had the material which doesn’t rot, doesn’t weather, maintains its color and looks good for years and years, been available 200 hundred years ago both the Grey Ghost and former President would have said, not just “yes,” to the material’s use, but “hell yes!”
But back to the sandwich board controversy:
Town Manager Brannon Godfrey and his staff propose a three-month “grace period” that would allow the sandwich board owners to come into compliance. Those who do so in the first month would get permits without cost.
“The town determined that none of the sandwich boards have permits,” interim Planning Director Denise Harris said. “So, now we need to address this . . . . And, we want to address it in a way that supports the town’s goals of walkability in a business friendly environment.”
So, ARB Aesthetician Melissa Wiedenfeld will decree a sandwich board review group of specially anointed busy bodies who’ll get to impose their personal preferences on the entire town. Of course, the tribunal will be made up of ARB members (who have special insight into what is pretty and what is not), businesses owners and landlords.
Again from FN:
“The ARB appears to have purview of appropriateness for colors . . . that are not florescent or bold,” said board member James “J” Tucker, a Warrenton architect. “The ARB does not dictate color. It simply reviews colors and approves or disapproves what the applicant submits.
“I believe that the sandwich boards signs, in general, are appropriate in the historic district, but some may not comply as they are presently displayed.”
So all those icky signs, you know the really clever and funny ones like Deja Brew’s which actually entice you to investigate the coffee house, but have offensive “florescent or bold” colors will be banned.
I don’t know if any of these morons actually walk downtown along Main Street, but if they did, they would see the amazing variety of signs, some which offer very clever pitches, most which simply point wayfarers toward the adjacent business. Meanwhile, the town recently made a big deal out of the “wayfaring signs” it posted around town for tourists. Presumably, those signs passed someone’s delicate sensibilities. Some of the offensive sandwich boards actually alert pedestrians and shoppers that there are shops and restaurants off of Main Street on the many side streets. Heaven forbid anyone find a business in Old Town.
Besides which, what business does the town of Warrenton have in telling businesses how they may or may not advertise their businesses? Might the focus of official energy more properly be focused on the many empty store fronts and closed businesses in the “historic district?” And, why in the world would anyone spend the huge sums of money to open a business in Warrenton knowing that their every move is going to be second guessed by a bunch of nosy busy bodies who contribute absolutely nothing to the town’s bottom line?
If Warrenton’s arbiters of good taste are truly concerned about horribly ugly signs, maybe they’ll prevail upon the powers that be to deal with the colossal eyesore in front of the John Barton Payne building. See below:
In the meantime, leave the sandwich boards alone.