Aurora sign code to include recommendations specific to historical districts

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Aurora -- As town leaders attempt to tweak the city's new sign code, Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin said she wants to accommodate the concerns of the city's landmark commission "because of the importance of Aurora's historic character."

"Therefore, we asked the landmark commission to provide its suggestions, which we modified and ran by various stakeholders, including the Chamber of Commerce," she said. "The consultant who drafted the code incorporated them into the legislation. It addresses several specific areas."

Those include:

• Landmark district and historical listed property evaluation criteria. The landmark commission will be authorized to consider the following criteria when evaluating proposed signage in the landmark district and for historical listed properties.

• Design. All signs must, in their design and appearance, complement the 19th century Western Reserve character of the district by incorporating design features characteristics of signs of the 1800s.

• Placement of signs on buildings. Signs should be designed and placed on buildings to be compatible with and complement the appearance of the building.

• Materials and construction. All signs shall be framed, constructed and erected so as to complement the overall appearance of the building and site as well as the overall appearance of the sign.

• Shapes. Early Western Reserve shapes, including features like a broken pediment, are preferred. Signs should be scaled and oriented to relate to pedestrians, as well as passing motorists, and signs should be sized to the scale of the building, the storefront and the street.

• Color. A wide range of colors is historically appropriate to allow expression of individuality while being appropriate to the buildings that are landmarks or are located within the landmark district and individually listed historic properties.

• Lettering. Lettering shall be in traditional 19th century letter styles. Signs could also include some sanserif fonts but primarily serif.

• Logos and illustrations. They are permissible provided that they conform in color and design to these regulations, and their presence is compatible with the architectural style or character of the sign.

A sign designed with a registered trademark of a specific commodity that uses a non-historical font style may be used provided that the trademark occupies no more than 25 percent of the total sign area.

• Illumination. No sign shall be illuminated from within or behind. Illumination shall be by properly shielded lights focused on the sign.

The ordinance was placed on hold Feb. 24 by Council. Law Director Dean DePiero said the city wanted to double-check how the signs would affect the historical districts.

"There is additional language that will help us maintain the character of the historical district," he said.

The city's sign code was last updated in 2002, officials said.

McKenna Associates is serving as a consultant in the code update at a contracted fee of $33,500.

"We're reviewing it to make a few final tweaks," DePiero said. "The intent is that the aesthetic charm and historical character is always kept up. We have to keep that, but also allow businesses to advertise appropriately."

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

Facebook: facebook.com/mike.lesko.378

Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC

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