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Property owners aggravated at city's delay in sign approval
Bank - old bank building.jpg
A proposed pylon sign at the old First American and AmSouth branch on Main Street is causing some controversy.

McMinnville’s Historic Zoning District guidelines are once again clashing with the desire of property owners. 

Chad and Emily Graves, owners of 357 W. Main Street, were less than content with a recent decision by McMinnville Historic Zoning Commission to delay approving their request for a pylon sign that has internal illumination.

The building is the old First American and AmSouth branch located on Main Street behind Super Rama.

“That doesn’t work for us,” said Chad, to commission members. “We want to object to that. We expect this to be approved today. I’m not sure how we go about doing this at this point in time, but we have put a lot of energy into this. I’m not saying that justifies the response, but we believe that we are improving the look of downtown and we are going to advertise events for the downtown business district. We believe this improves the downtown historic district instead of creating issues.” 

The statement came after Historic Zoning Commission member Bobby Kirby motioned that members hold off on approving the free-standing sign, but approve a second sign that would be affixed to the building and externally lit.

“I have a problem with the pylon sign,” said Kibry. “I think it violates our guidelines. I’d like a little further consideration on this and look into some things. I’m fine with the one on the storefront, as long as it is not internally illuminated and you say it is not. I like that sign. I’m for approving that sign. I would rather table the pylon sign.”

Pylon signs are freestanding structures that can be single or double sided. Usually supported by one or two poles, these signs are made of aluminum or steel frame with a rigid or flexible face. Pylon signs can be illuminated using LED or left unilluminated.

This pylon sign would also have a digital component so it could be used for advertising.

“It’s more than an internally lit sign,” said Kirby. “This sign is an electronic billboard. I’m not prepared to vote in favor of this today.”

The internally lit sign at Hardee’s was approved in 2016. At that time, a successful argument was made that an internally lit sign would help reduce light disturbance on neighbors when compared to an externally lit sign. That discussion also includes statements that over 20 internally lit, illuminated signs existed in the historic district, including that of Park Theater and City Hall. 

“There are a lot of internally lit signs in the district,” said Chad. “I feel this is unfair, even the conversation.”

Chad said the sign would be “subtle and absolutely not flashy,” and used to advertise services provided, such as COVID-19 testing, while Emily added the sign would not be used to advertise product sales. 

“We are not going to advertise a Pepsi sale or anything like that,” she said. “We are a healthcare facility. Also, we are part of Main Street. We want to be able to advertise Main Street and events like Autumn Street Fair and other events that are going on. We feel like we could do that for free as a service, just to be part of downtown.”

The motion by Historic Zoning Commission member Bobby Kirby to approve a storefront sign on the building located at 357 W. Main Street but table the request for a freestanding internally illuminated sign for the business passed 3-1. Kirby drew support from members Rachel Kirby and Tom Ward. Commission member Rachel Killebrew voted in favor of the sign.