In a split vote Tuesday, members of the Leavenworth City Commission denied a waiver of a sign regulation for a downtown business.
The owners of Gold Factory, 331 Delaware St., had sought a variance to city development regulations regarding window signs. The regulations permit only 33 percent of a window area to be covered. And city staff said signs placed in the windows of Gold Factory exceeded this limit.
According to City Planner Berrin Nejad, signs were erected at the business over a weekend without a permit. Representatives of the company then met with city staff Oct. 25 and a permit was issued for some of the signs on the outside of the business. But signs in the glass door and two windows were still in violation of the regulations.
A deadline for appealing the window sign violation was Dec. 3. No appeal was filed by that date and a case was initiated Dec. 5 in Municipal Court. The company's owners filed an appeal Dec. 31, and the court case was put on hold, according to Nejad.
Commissioner Mark Preisinger questioned Tuesday whether commissioners should consider the request.
"In my opinion, the time to appeal to us has passed," he said.
Commissioner Phil Urban said he also had trouble in regards to procedure not being followed. On the other hand, he said he doesn't have a problem with businesses doing what they want with their windows.
Mayor Larry Dedeke said he halfway agreed with Preisinger but also understood the points Urban was making.
Dedeke said the appeal wasn't filed until 28 days after the deadline.
"I'm inclined to go with Mark on this," he said. "Let the court handle it."
Commissioner Davis Moulden said if commissioners approved the variance, anyone would be able to put up a sign of any size without a permit.
"If you allow it to happen, then you've opened a can of worms you don't want," he said.
Mayor Pro-Tem Laura Janas Gasbarre said the city has sign regulations on the books. She said commissioners can look at changing the regulations if they want.
She said the business did not follow the correct process.
"And we did give him an opportunity to appeal," she said.
James Dearth, one of the owners of Gold Factory, said there had been some confusion.
He said the owners had wanted to appeal the sign violation when they met with city staff but were told the proper form didn't exist at that time. There also was confusion regarding whether there would be a fee.
He said signs on the outside of the windows were removed and signs were placed on the inside of the windows.
"So we thought the issue was in compliance," he said.
Page 2 of 2 - He said the use of the window signs is a security issue. He said it prevents people from seeing how many people are in the store.
Dedeke said the signs also can hinder security.
City Manager Scott Miller said a police officer who was driving by would not be able to see if there was anything wrong in the store.
Urban suggested a person could put up plywood within six inches of the inside of a window and put up the same signs. He said this wouldn't be considered a violation.
"That's not signage on the window," he said.
Urban said he didn't understand the 33 percent limit for window signs.
Preisinger asked if approving the variance would set a precedent that would negate the sign regulations.
City Attorney Thomas Dawson said signs still would be looked at on a case by case basis.
Urban made a motion to grant a variance for the business. The motion failed to pass with a vote of 2-3. Urban and Preisinger voted in favor of the motion.
Commissioners later approved a waiver for Stephen Meyer. He had asked for a waiver to a sidewalk requirement associated with the construction a new home at 1230 Holman St.
Commissioners also waived certain requirements regarding driveway construction for property at 201 Marion St. owned by Louis Klemp.