Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Downtown and Business Signs

Downtown Lexington has prohibited protruding signs since December of 1976. The exact wording is as follows:
Sec. 5-4.1. Overhanging signs in downtown Lexington.
(a) The provisions of other ordinances notwithstanding, no sign shall project perpendicularly from any building or other structures so as to overhang the sidewalk or public right-of-way within the area of downtown Lexington, said area being more particularly defined below. No horizontal or flush sign shall overhang said sidewalk or right-of-way more than one (1) foot. This section shall not affect theater or hotel marquees, nor existing marquees.
(b) Downtown Lexington is defined as follows

From here on there is a litany of street descriptions and address ranges, all of which define downtown as it was in 1976. That was 32 years ago and now I hear rumblings of a desire to amend the ordinance, but I just don't know in which way.

At first I said, "They want to do away with the prohibition of the signs." and that makes sense to me. Looking for a location while driving through downtown can be a frustrating task, even when you know the town like the back of your hand and can remember what store was there three stores ago. I can't imaging what it is like for someone from out of town.

My next thought was, "I'll bet this is in relation to CentrePointe and its hotel." But reading the ordinance I found that hotels are exempt from the rule. There is no need to change anything. Maybe they are thinking about the awnings that could be placed on the retail in the complex. When the overhanging signs were removed, the awnings were taken out also because you could have signs painted on them. Boy, I do miss those awnings. Try walking down the street in a light rain and you forgot your umbrella, now just try to stay dry.

OK, next thought, "The definition of downtown has changed in the minds of our city leaders in 32 years." Yeah, that's true. But which definition is to be used? I posted on something like this a few weeks ago, read it here.

There are a number of conflicting and competing concepts of downtown floating about in Lexington. So do we take DDA's boundary and go from Third St to Maxwell, and Newtown Pike to Midland and Winchester Rd? Should we take everything encompassed in the downtown zone categories?(B-2, B-2A and B-2B) Which ever one we pick it make a few or a lot of people unhappy. Not just the ones who have to remove their signs, but the historic preservation folks who screamed loudly about the buildings on the Main St. block "Our history is being relegated to the scrap heap or the museum," they will cry.

My conclusions on this? I'm not sure yet. I really like the old signs and I miss the awnings. I do not miss the overhead wires. I would like to see a design review for signs in the downtown area but that may be asking for too much.

However it plays out, I feel a change blowing in the winds of autumn.

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