Clarke GOP given OK to put back sign

Posted: October 4, 2012

The Winchester Star

BERRYVILLE — Clarke County Republicans have been cleared to put back a pro-Mitt Romney sign in front of their headquarters on Main Street, but the bell they had attached to it is another issue.

Berryville’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) on Wednesday gave permission for the sign — located in front of the old Coiner building that houses the GOP “Victory Center” — after Town Planner Christy Dunkle made them take it down earlier in the week.

The area is part of Berryville’s historic district, and local businesses must get a permit and have portable sandwich signs approved prior to setting them out. Under the town’s code, each business can have one free-standing sign no bigger than 3 feet by 4 feet.

Review board member Susan Wolk said at Wednesday’s meeting that she had no problem permitting the sign, but indicated that “the bell has to be moved.”

Architect Kenneth Livingston, who chaired the meeting, said the bell jutting out from the side of the sign was a hazard, according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Board members were concerned about children or even adults walking into it.

“I’d have no trouble with it up here,” Wolk said, pointing to the top of the sign in a photograph.

Jerry Johnson, owner of the building, agreed the bell — apparently intended to be rung “for freedom” — would be “no risk to anybody” on top and said he would take that message to his tenants.

Johnson said he had also instructed the GOP to take a separate Romney sign off the parking meter in front of the building.

Board members also agreed to give Berryville Main Street a Certificate of Appropriateness to install signs at the base of 10 hornbeam trees along Main Street, to identify the sponsors of new white sparkle lights to be attached to the hardwoods for the Christmas season.

Johnson, a member of Berryville Main Street, said the electricity for the lights will be provided by adjacent buildings.

Board members agreed with Johnson that keeping the lights lit through the winter months would brighten up the downtown.

Dunkle also told the board that the Planning Commission is discussing the issue of clothing and shoe collection boxes that have appeared around town, including in the historic district, which the ARB supervises.

Dunkle said Planning Commission members are concerned with the boxes, which have been placed in the flood plain areas of the town as well as in front of businesses, where they take up parking spaces.

Livingston said he has an issue with them adding clutter to the historic district. And, he said, each box has a large sign on it.

Attending the meeting at the Joint Government Center were Kenneth Livingston, Susan Wolk and Sue Cooper. Chairman Jim Barb was absent.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com