Source: Sherman Publications

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Retailers seek sign amendments

by Mary Keck

April 11, 2012

Some Clarkston retailers want a brighter downtown.

Kevin Harrison, owner of KH Home on Main Street, told Clarkston City Council signs could make a difference.

"To many of us, this is not a vibrant business district," said Harrison.

Harrison and other members of Clarkston Retailers Group sought amendments to two City Zoning Ordinances at Monday's council meeting. They want to put lighted "open" signs in their windows and sandwich boards on the sidewalks.

Some citizens, however, were concerned bright signs in shop windows would take away from the historic downtown.

"The thing that we hear the most from people who come from far away is how charming [Clarkston] is," said Curt Catallo, owner of Clarkston Union on Main Street. "But I can tell you that one trip to Sam's Club to get one of these 'open' signs will suck the charm out of a building like a vampire bat on a water balloon full of ox blood."

Councilman Michael Sabol was worried about violations of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act if sandwich boards were placed on already crowded pedestrian areas.

While many on the City Council were sympathetic to the concerns of the Clarkston Retailers Group, Mayor Joseph Luginski made it clear, "bottom line: it's against the ordinance, and you're voluntarily breaking the ordnance. Our duty is to uphold the laws and ordinances of the city."

City Manager Dennis Ritter had sent several notices to violators, including Harrison, who had a lighted sign and sandwich board in front of his business.

Although the business owners did not get the "temporary reprieve" they were hoping for, council members did not believe amendments were impossible if the retailers group went through the proper channels.