EAST LIVERPOOL - Going against city ordinance, the Design Review Board granted an extension to a downtown businessman who wants to install signs on his Fifth Street building that fail to meet criteria for the historic central business district.
Brian Kerr, owner of PC Doctors, addressed the board Tuesday, asking permission to install two vinyl signs on his building, located at the corner of East Fifth and Washington streets for six months, admitting he knows vinyl signs are disallowed under city ordinance.
Kerr said his computer business is "expanding in leaps and bounds" and he is undertaking an advertising blitz but people still are uncertain where his business is located.
According to Kerr, one reason he purchased that particular building was due to James Locke Jewelers being next door which he said drew customers downtown. Now that it, and reportedly a restaurant across the street, are closing, "we need to attract business to us and have to make sure they can find us."
In December 2010, Kerr had been granted a similar extension, allowing him to use the same type of signs for 90 days, but they had not been removed by May 2011, when planning Director Bill Cowan sent him a letter, telling him the signs had to be removed.
They were taken down, and Kerr has had no signs on his building since.
Asked if his business had been hurt by not having the signs in place, Kerr said it has, saying, "I can go to Calcutta and put the same signs up right now, as long as the landlord approves."
Cowan reminded Kerr he had said after given the first extension he would put up permanent signs, which are still not up, noting, "I think six months is a long time to have temporary signs."
Kerr said he began an expansion to his home which entailed more than he had anticipated and he had not been able to start improvements to his business building as originally planned.
He told the board he plans to undertake those improvements, including a projecting sign, flags and lighting, saying, "A lot of investment will go into that building, but I need the business to support that. Six months is the most I'd need."
Ordinance dictates that temporary signage be permitted only for new businesses coming into town, Cowan advised.
Board member Mark Hissom said he had no problem allowing the temporary signs, saying, "We need all the business we can get downtown."
Councilman Sherrie Curtis sat in on the meeting and also supported the move, saying she would like to see Kerr given the opportunity to post his signs, at least through the Christmas season, noting, "If he doesn't comply, action can be taken then."
Kerr assured the board the signs would be removed in March, his building will undergo remodeling, and he will then come back to the board for new signage but said, "I need signage now with the holidays."
Cowan made the motion to support his request, which was approved unanimously, with board member Gene Toot absent.