Blight on the Square – Sign Ordinance in Danger

That’s right, on the very Square itself, City staff are preparing to destroy the last ten years of history and hard work, and they will do this by interpreting in a completely new way the set formula that calculates the maximum size of sign that a building can have.

The formula allows approximately one square foot of sign per every linear foot of frontage that a building has. But to accommodate the new restaurant Romeos (in the old Monica’s site), city staff now propose to reinterpret the controlling formula to allow a sign three to four times larger.

Why does Romeos want such a large sign? Well, their Austin restaurant is on Barton Springs Road, very much a moving-traffic street, and down there they need a sign this size. The Romeos owners are obviously out of touch with the needs of Georgetown’s residents and tourists in thinking that they need such an inappropriate sign to attract customers (people are already saying they’ll boycott the place if this sign shenanigan goes through).

The question is, why in the world don’t city staff know better – what are they thinking?

These questions and more will be answered tomorrow evening when the Historic and Architectural Review Commission – HARC – holds its meeting at the City Council Chambers (7th & Main) at 6pm on Wednesday, September 27th, 2006.

At this meeting, HARC actually has the power to change the ordinance to redefine the formula, opening the door for a confusion of garish signs to litter the Square in the future.

Let us repeat – the meeting Wednesday night is the final meeting, at which HARC proposes to change the controlling ordinance, and HARC has the power to do so without further review. This news came to us at the last minute, more secrecy again. But several OldTowners will manage to be there, speaking and fighting to stop this travesty. Show up and show support.


One reply

  1. Some bullet points to remember to cover for HARC and the Staff:
    • Romeo’s proposed sign would be TWO vertical signs facing in two directions, high up by the Masonic dome and would exceed the size of all other signage in the historic area. The term “Sore Thumb” comes to mind.
    • The proposed sign although in keeping with the company’s logo and look elsewhere, does not fit the nature and character of the historic area of Georgetown which is described thoroughly in the Master Plan and in the Design Guidelines.
    • The Guidelines should not be tweaked and “reinterpreted” for one business. Changing the Guidelines in this manner is a perfect way to break precedence and open the door to all sorts of grotesque signage on the square and in the historic district. The camel’s nose is under the tent flap.
    • Our square is a destination, not a route to someplace else. Signage just doesn’t have to be large or gaudy to draw patrons.
    • Recently illustrated in the Holly Street bus depot fracas, there seems to be a tragic lack of awareness of the unique culture of Georgetown and its historic district by members of the City Staff. These are the people on whom we rely to present our distinctive setting to the business community looking to invest here. Staff should have a better understanding of the true nature and matchless attractions of Old Town, and make applicants aware that though business ventures are more than welcome, people flock to the area because the City has remained true to its historic roots as articulated by the Design Guidelines. City Staff doesn’t seem to grasp that the success of Georgetown is that it doesn’t look like Round Rock.
    • There is consensus that a business that would be so insensitive to the nature of this unique and fragile area will be avoided, if not boycotted, by Georgetown residents.