Romeo’s – the Real Story of the HARC Meeting

[Letter to Williamson County Sun, October 4, 2006 – Karen Davis]

I am very surprised and disappointed that The Sun allowed what seemed to be
an op ed piece about HARC and the proposed Romeo’s sign appear as front page news.

HARC and commissions like it seem to be the very last bastions of the
people’s will. Many years ago the people of Georgetown spoke, and they
insisted that the Old Town district and the Square maintain historical
relevance which made this unique and matchless asset of Georgetown the jewel
of central Texas. This is why HARC and the other oversight commissions were
born. (To imply that the City Staff could do this job better is asserting
that convicts could guard themselves.)

I was at the meeting. The article didn’t mention this, but the sign that
was presented failed on at least five impartial items in the Guidelines!
Romeo’s, acting in good faith, were led to believe by the City Staff that
several iterations of their big ugly backlit tattoo parlor sign would comply
with the rules for the Square. The restaurateur informed us that if she
couldn’t have her big ugly backlit tattoo parlor sign she wouldn’t open for
awhile. Seeing the thin edge of the wedge, the owners of that building and
the Chamber of Commerce went around the Square and solicited other retailers
to line up in support of Romeo’s at this meeting, no doubt dreaming of their
own big ugly backlit tattoo parlor signs.

If the people of Georgetown now want the Square to look like Barton Springs
Road or Sixth Street then we must go back to the ballot box and rewrite the
guidelines and ordinances overtly, in the light of day. Maybe that’s the
case; perhaps times they are a-changing. Until then, brow beating HARC is
not the way to do this. The commission was doing its job, for us. Romeo’s,
if they absolutely can’t operate without a big ugly backlit tattoo parlor
sign, can open a restaurant up by I-35 where it doesn’t matter. The City
and the Chamber should be enticing and helping businesses that fit the
ambiance and rules of the Square, not convincing the occupants that their
poor sales are due to the lack of copious signage. And before they start
accusing us, those of us who love the Square do not hate business. The
people of Georgetown are looking to the City to draw in suitable businesses
for the historic district and for competent business owners who don’t blame
us and our representatives for their problems. There are all sorts of
reasons why the Square seems dormant; when the court house is finished most
of these will dissipate.

Instead of writing covert editorials, I would ask Reporter Mittlefehldt to
follow the money and find out what is really happening behind the
machinations of these off-the-wall proposals for Old Town and why they keep

Karen Lee Davis
October 1, 2006


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