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City to design prototype of directional signs for businesses located in neighborhoods

BUCKHANNON – The Consolidated Public Works Board directed Street Department officials to design a prototype of directional signs for a Buckhannon business.

Janet Lonas, owner of the Tanning Hut, attended the July 22 CPWB meeting to request directional signs at the corner Bobcat Lane and Sedgwick Street, Bobcat Lane and Baxter Street or Sedgwick Street and College Avenue.

“Nobody can find me in there,” Lonas told the Consolidated Board. “I just need help, and originally, we didn’t say Bobcat and Sedgwick because our address is on Bobcat, but most of the traffic does go down Baxter.”

“The issue with the Bobcat is there’s no painted curbs where Bobcat [Lane] and Sedgwick [Street] meet because we just recently received a street sign,” she added, “so there’s always cars blocking the entrance on Bobcat and Sedgwick because the curbs aren’t painted, so they’re parking in the actual entrance of that street.”

Lonas said she commissioned some signs and had been displaying them, but they kept disappearing.

Board member CJ Rylands asked Buckhannon’s director of public works Jerry Arnold if the city has ever placed directional signs in a city right-of-way before.

“We did when Wesleyan built the parking lot behind the house on College Avenue, across from Mike McCauley,” Arnold said. “They had a sign on to the right-of-way that directed [traffic] to the parking lot and they did get approval from this board, but this sign was also on one of their properties.”

Rylands asked Lonas if she spoke to any of the property owners about placing the signs.

“I have not,” Lonas replied. “I believe the property on Baxter is owned by the college, and the Sedgwick [lot], I believe, is an old, abandoned house that I believe the city now owns.”

Rylands said he was hesitant to put the signs on property not owned by the business.

“We will be setting a new precedent, and I’m sure we would be getting other requests,” Rylands said. “I guess [it would be OK] if it was city right-of-way and your own property, which is what Wesleyan did, but if we’re putting the directional sign on property that someone else maintains or cuts the grass or trims the weeds around the sign or whatnot, then I don’t know – that’s a bit of deviation from what we’ve done in the past.”

Buckhannon mayor Robbie Skinner said the city does not plan to own the property on Sedgwick long term.

“I see both sides. This could set a precedent with signage on properties owned by the business and as property changes ownership, that owner of the property – whoever it may be – might not want those signs there,” Skinner said. “If I owned a house, and I sell my house and Nancy comes in to buy my house, she might not want it there. On the other side of that I don’t think we have that many businesses that are in neighborhoods, and I don’t know that this would become too tremendous of an eyesore if we were to allow it.”

Skinner said signage in neighborhoods will possibly always be tricky.

“I don’t know that there is a permanent solution to what I’m being asked here – just because of the nature of the neighborhoods in our community,” Skinner said. “With this business not being located within a business district like a downtown, or a long route where it’s easy to see the signage [it is not a typical situation]” Skinner said. “Every sign that is directional on Main Street or on Route 20 is on a commercial street and is connected to the business in some way on that property.”

Arnold said the city could potentially make a small directional sign that would attach to the already established street signs on the corners.

“We maybe need to work out some details here before we approve something that we can all take a look at,” Rylands said. “We can come back next month and have some prototypes of the sign – the dimensions – and then how we’re going to address future requests on a case-by-case basis.”

Skinner and the board agreed to evaluate sign designs at the next meeting and set up guidelines for future sign requests.

“We’re certainly open to this in placing these directional signs on our street signs that are on the corners of these areas, and we’re going to come back next month to have a look at a prototype of what these signs could look like, and also come up with some parameters guiding how these decisions will be made,” Skinner said. “As a city government, we have to maintain consistency for any and all situations that could come up like this.”

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