Historical signs avoid controversial Charleston sign ordinance - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Historical signs avoid controversial Charleston sign ordinance

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A controversial sign ordinance isn't going anywhere, but the city of Charleston said it is willing to work with some businesses for the sake of preserving history.

On Thursday, the Charleston Board of Zoning Appeals had a busy agenda after three businesses requested a variance, or special exception, to restore their vintage signs.

Firestone Tire, Fountain Hobby Center, and Budget Tapes and Records all have old signs that are no longer up to city code. Under the city's sign ordinance, a business cannot re-hang a sign that is not up to code. Restoring the signs would require the business to take it down.

Fountain Hobby Center's sign dates back to the 1940's. Cathy Morse Callihan's family owns it.

"There is not a day that does not go by that there's not somebody who comes into our business and asks about the sign. Not one day," she said.

She was pleased when the board approved their request.

Freeman Smith, of Architectural Graphics Incorporated, also went to the meeting on behalf of Firestone Tire.  Firestone has two signs it wants to restore.  The Charleston location is the second oldest one in the country. The signs date back to the 1930's.

"They're porcelain faced. So, you have to sand seal and use a special automotive paint and primer to get these back to where they are," Smith said.

Smith said Firestone has been trying to get the project done since 2012.   He believes the community support is part of the reason the city has softened its stance.

"I think a lot of that was with all the public support and everybody wanting to see these signs redone," he said.

The board will make a final decision on Budget Tapes and Records sign at the end of August.

Mayor Danny Jones says there are no immediate plans to get rid of the sign ordinance. He said the city is flexible when it comes to businesses that go through the variance process.