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City sees light on sign ordinance

August 01, 2012 - Downtown Clarkston may look a little brighter now that City Council has agreed to wave the $750 application fee and pay up to $2,000 to amend their zoning ordinance. The current ordinance doesn't allow internally illuminated signs.

"The retailers are very important to the city," said Mayor Joe Luginski, July 23. Downtown retailers in attendance displayed the sign they would like hanging in their windows. It was a black-trimmed sign with "Open" lit up in red, which has been displayed in the window of KH Home for weeks.

According to the retailers group, the sign brings in customers. The estimated $2,750 for the ordinance change is more than they can afford. The price of amending an ordinance includes costs such as attorney fees and public notices in the newspaper.

"Ten percent of my new growth has come from people verbally stating that the only reason they came in was because of my sign being on, and they ended up parking," said Christina Calka, owner of Village Fashion Boutique. "I love Clarkston that's why I came here. I love the atmosphere here; however, I want to stay here," she said.

It wasn't only the retailers who felt the sign ordinance should change. Former Councilman Steve Wylie said, "I think it is in all of our best interests to relax this ordinance." From his perspective, if the retailers are successful, "it makes my quality of life better as a resident."

Jennifer Detkowski of the Planning Commission noted the businesses' willingness to donate to organizations in Clarkston as part of the reason she believed the retailers should be helped. "I do think it is our responsibility to support them a little bit more, and if we could do that financially, I think we should," she said.

Councilman Richard Bisio also supported helping the retailers. "It is to the benefit of the city, not just the retailers, to help their businesses prosper," he said. "It increases the traffic into the city, and it increases the value of their property and the value of the rest of our property."

With few speaking against changing the ordinance, the council agreed in a unanimous vote to wave the fees for changing the ordinance. Steve Hargis was absent, and Peg Roth abstained from voting.

While they won't be paying $2,750, the retailers must complete an application, go before the Planning Commission, and come before the Village Council again before the ordinance will be amended. The next City Council meeting will take place on August 6 at 7pm in the Village Hall.

Clarkston News reporter
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