GEORGETOWN — The Georgetown Community Appearance Board convened on Aug. 30 to resume its business, namely, to take up building permits in Georgetown’s Urban Core Overlay District and variances from the regulations of the Main Corridor Overlay District.
The UCOD’s stated purpose is to “promote the attractive, harmonious and pedestrian friendly re-development of the City’s urban core while enhancing the adjacent uses,” while the MCOD’s six-bullet statement of intent includes “encourage harmonious, orderly and efficient growth and development of the City of Georgetown.” One of the items the Community Appearance Board considers is sign applications, which is why Jim Bailey was in attendance on Aug. 30.
Bailey is the owner of Beanz, a coffee shop at the corner of Church and Wood streets. At the meeting, he sat next to graphic designer Jessica Schwiers of Haynes Sign Company in the Georgetown municipal courtroom. All he wanted was the go-ahead to put up a sign.
The plans presented to the board entailed an internally illuminated sign on the green raceway above the awning on Beanz’s Church Street side to let passing motorists know that they can acquire coffee within. A previous sign of painted aluminum letters was damaged by a power washer, Bailey said. Rather than try to salvage the old sign, he looked into acquiring a new one.
Bailey got in touch with Murrells Inlet-based Haynes Sign Company and put down a deposit for a sign in May, he said.
Because Beanz is located within Georgetown’s Urban Core Overlay District, Bailey needed the approval of the Community Appearance Board before the sign could go up. The Georgetown City Council adopted an amendment to Article XIII of the city zoning ordinance in February that created the Urban Core Overlay District and required businesses in the district to go before the Community Appearance Board for approval before submitting a building permit.
But there was a problem, Bailey said: Haynes was told there was no one sitting on the Georgetown Community Appearance Board at the time. Thus, he would have to wait until board members were appointed for his permit to be considered.
On March 17, the Georgetown City Council adopted an amendment to Article XVII of the city zoning ordinance, which lays out the regulations of the Community Appearance Board. The amendment updated the qualifications of board members, and the seven-member board was “expired” at that time, requiring new members to apply for seats.
The new board members — three of whom had served on the board at its Feb. 3 meeting, the last Community Appearance Board meeting for which the Georgetown city website retains minutes — were appointed by the Georgetown City Council on July 21 and mailed their letters of appointment for their signature. The signed letters were received by Aug. 15.
“I owned an answering service in Connecticut for 20 years, and I’ve never heard of needing to go in front of a committee but there is no committee,” Bailey said. “I mean, it’s one thing if the committee quits and it takes 30 to 60 days. But as of right now, what is it, Aug. 17? So that’s five months. Five months without a committee. Five months of waiting. I’ve never heard of that before.”
Bailey’s application was third in line of the six sign applications the board considered on Aug. 30 in the order that they were received. Georgetown planning and community development director Tammy Kinsley said the first application, for a T-Mobile outlet on Church Street, had been on file with the city since June 1.
Georgetown city administrator Sandra Yúdice told Georgetown Times that the timing of applications played into the board’s hiatus. The city began advertising for applications in May, she said, and received two for appointment at the city council’s June 16 meeting.
“We had to wait until we received more applications; hence, the appointments were made in July,” Yúdice said.
In the meantime, Bailey placed a banner on the outside of Beanz facing Church Street. Kinsley told him in an Aug. 11 email that the city was “getting closer” to a board meeting date. She also reminded Bailey that he needed to file a temporary sign application for his banner.
At 6:05 p.m. on Aug. 30, Bailey and Schwiers stepped to the courtroom podium. Board members asked them a few questions, and six minutes later, Bailey had his sign. The vote was 6-0, with board member Sally Parker absent.
It had been, according to Kinsley, two months and 27 days that the city had had Bailey’s application on file.
“I’m happy,” Bailey said. “I can’t wait to have it up, because it’s definitely gonna attract customers. I mean, you’re gonna see that sign at Black River (Road) lit up, instead right now I have none. I have a banner.”
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