April 16, 2013
LIMA — A large sign on the side of a downtown building has prompted a discussion in City Council about the lack of a sign regulations in Lima.
Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee began a conversation regarding sign regulations Monday. Other meetings Monday night meant the committee had little time to tackle the issue, prompted by the advertising St. Rita’s Medical Center is doing for its emergency department.
Third Ward Councilman Jesse Lowe II asked earlier this month about the sign on the side of the Metropolitan Block Building, saying residents asked him how it was allowed to be there and suggested it was because of the hospital’s pull. Lowe wondered what precedent is being set with allowing the sign.
Lima does not have a sign code. Several years ago, the city developed a code just for billboards but stopped short of overall sign regulations. The St. Rita’s banner does not meet the city’s definition of a billboard.
The city’s Downtown Design and Review Board approved the banner on a temporary basis and plans to review it, 5th Ward Councilor and committee chair Teresa Adams said. The committee members plan to review the billboard code and get educated on the possibilities for a sign code.
Contacted before the meeting, St. Rita’s chose to not comment on the issue.
Rob Nelson, who owns the The Met Wine Bar and is responsible for renovating the Met Block Building, said Monday the advertisement is consistent with signs that used to be on the building. Historical photographs show advertising on that side of the building, Nelson said.
“It’s historically accurate, and it has to be,” Nelson said.
Before the local board approved the sign, the state also had to approve the change to the building, Nelson said, because it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
“I don’t think we’re reinventing the wheel,” Nelson said. “It’s within the framework of the historical nature of the building. Also, advertising such as this is common in places such as New York and Chicago. We had a good conversation about what was going to go there. The Design and Review Board saw this sign and other options for the future.”