Projecting signs may become option for downtown businesses
A proposed change to an ordinance regulating the types of signs allowed in downtown areas was discussed by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning and Zoning Commission during a public hearing Thursday, Feb. 13. If the commission’s recommendation to approve the text amendment is approved by the city councils in Versailles and Midway as well as Woodford Fiscal Court, business owners in the Central Business District (B-2) would be permitted to use projecting signs (that extend out by up to five feet) instead of wall signs, which will continue being permitted in the downtown district. The proposed text amendment related to projecting signs – commonly called blade signs – was received from Versailles City Council in January, Planning Director Pattie Wilson told the commission. She said the only projecting sign (of more than 15 inches) that’s in downtown Versailles currently is Community Trust Bank’s time and temperature sign, which has been in existence for many years. “Downtowns historically … have always used projecting signs for their retail businesses,” said Teresa Lynch, who serves on the City of Versailles’ sign and main street committees. The Versailles resident told the commission she has about 35 years of experience (through various Main Street programs) in downtown revitalization including as a state coordinator in Virginia. Lynch described projecting signs as being helpful to pedestrian trying to locate businesses. “And also, they add a huge amount of vitality to the community, to the downtown,” she added. The proposed text amendment to the ordinance would allow a downtown business owner to use a projecting sign instead of a permanent wall sign, but the projecting sign “shall not project more than five feet from the building nor any closer than 18 inches from the curb or driving lane.” The projecting sign must also have nine feet of clearance above the sidewalk, according to the proposed amendment. Because most of the downtown business district in Versailles is also located in the Historic Overlay district, Wilson said a business owner who wants to add a projecting sign to an existing historic structure would be required to also appear before the Board of Architectural Review. “And the board is going to look closely at how these signs are going to be anchored to our historic buildings to make sure that they don’t damage the building, and that they work well with the character of the building,” said Wilson. “So there will still be some oversight,” before a business owner can get a permit to install a projecting sign. Currently, projecting signs cannot project out more than 15 inches. Examples of those signs include ones being used by the various small businesses on Court Street like the Amsden Coffee Club and The Yoga Room. No one from the public spoke for or against the proposed text amendment (allowing projecting signs) at the Feb. 13 hearing. Commissioners Randal Bohannon and Tim Parrott were absent. Budget for 2020-21 The commission unanimously approved a proposed budget for fiscal year 2020-21 that includes a 2.5 percent raise for its office staff (from $194,346 to $199,569), a projected increase in revenue generated by fees (from $70,000 to $85,000) and a request for less government funding – from $110,311 to $104,273 for the City of Versailles and Woodford County, and from $27,579 to $26,067 for the City of Midway. Financial audit A financial audit of the Planning Commission again showed a material weakness related to a lack of adequate segregation of duties. This ongoing issue is primarily due to having a small staff, according to the audit report. One recommendation that may address this weakness would involve having an outside person review bank statements, administrative assistant Kim O’Reel told the commission. Midway Station plan The Planning Commission unanimously approved an amended development plan so Greg Baker (Tobacco Rose Farm) can move forward with plans to construct a 6,400 square-foot warehouse and office building with outdoor storage on 2.42 acres at 770 McKinney Avenue in the Midway Station industrial park, located north of I-64. Tobacco Rose – a family-owned erosion control company (currently based in Lexington) – does work statewide, Baker told the commission. He said his family lives in Versailles. Storage building The commission unanimously approved an amended development plan allowing a 5,000 square-foot storage building on the Ruggles Sign Company property at 93 Industry Road. Commission attorney The commission welcomed its new attorney, Preston Worley. He will be employed under a continuation of the contract with McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland. Both Worley and his predecessor, Jacob Walbourn, were employed by the Lexington law firm. Walbourn notified Wilson a couple of weeks ago that he was leaving McBrayer to take a job with the state, commission Chair Patty Perry told commissioners.