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Commission discusses amending Title 9

By Staff | Jan 21, 2011

At Monday’s Shepherdstown Planning Commission meeting, commissioners discussed the need to amend sections of the Title 9 Planning and Zoning ordinance.

While the commission has discussed updating it for sometime now, they had a more in-depth discussion when they approved an application for a sandwich board sign for the Skin Care Shop at 123 W. German St.

Section 9-210(II) of the ordinance addresses signs for businesses. It states that all free-standing signs “may be used only by commercial establishments with no more than one sign per 50 feet of frontage permitted.”

But Josh Stella, president of the commission, said there is an average of just over 43 feet between sandwich boards businesses have up – and the commission has not approved most sandwich board signs around town.

Skin Care Shop owner Patti Foss’ application was the first for a sandwich board to be passed on German Street, although there sit dozens along the street everyday. Commissioner Karene Motivans said the only other sandwich board application she recalls approving is one for a business along Princess Street.

“Enforcement wise, there might not be a lot happening,” said Chris Stroech, commissioner and member of the sign committee, which is taking a closer look at the sign section of the ordinance.

“Well we’re not enforcing it – anywhere,” Stella said.

Commissioner David Springer wondered if it was premature to approve a sandwich board sign application before making changes to the ordinance.

Stella thought what the commission really needed to get a grip on was the unclear language of the ordinance.

Stroech said the sign committee hopes to meet sometime next month and research ordinances from towns similar to Shepherdstown. He also said there has already been talk in the sign committee that once changes have been made, no business approved under the current ordinance can be “grandfathered in” under the new one. They must abide by the amended code.

Stella said he went to the Shepherdstown Business Association to get members’ input as far as signage goes because once a new ordinance is written, it will be enforced and it is possible no one will be an exception to it.

Stroech eventually motioned to approve the Skin Care Shop’s sandwich board because it complied with square footage and the 50-foot frontage requirements. He did, however, recommend that the owner reconsider the placement of the sign to be sure it complies with the Public Works’ ordinance which states a temporary obstruction on the sidewalk “that constricts free passage of a pedestrian to a space of less than 42 inches in width” is restricted. Stroech’s motion also recommended that the material be more conducive with the architectural feel of the town.

With Springer’s second to the motion, the application passed unanimously.