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Tension as Ludlow Council Narrowly Approves New Rules for Signs

Ludlow City Council narrowly approved a text amendment on sign regulations that now allows businesses to put up signs as large as 60 square feet. The amendment was initiated to allow Ludlow Pharmacy to install a new electronic sign at their store.

The council was split on the matter, as both Tom Amann and Josh Boone voted no, but Bill Mullins, Joyce McMullin, and Amy Clary became the majority with their three votes to approve the amendment.

Amann repeated much of the opposition he voiced during the first reading of the issue, that other businesses could follow suit with large signs of their own, thereby blighting the homey esthetics of Ludlow's business district with excessive advertisement.

“I feel that this is going to take away from the downtown Ludlow charm,” Amann said.

He also read the opinion of the Kenton County Planning Commission, that supported Mr. Amann's worries, stating that the purpose of the sign regulation is to maintain a pleasing visual environment and that permitting 60 square foot signs will significantly detract from the visual environment in downtown Ludlow.

McMullin argued that City Council should show support and sensitivity toward local business needs. “If we do not start working with business in this city, we will not be able to maintain the business we already have,” she said.

The pharmacy's owner, Jim Litmer, explained that the new sign would allow the business to deliver health messages to its customers rather than just advertise products. “It's not just going to be 99 cents for a bottle of Tylenol,” he said.

Mr. Lidford's sign would be around twenty square feet smaller than the new maximum of 60 square feet and will be sit elevated around 17 feet from the ground.

Mr. Amann was spirited in his disapproval. He expressed his doubt to Litmer that the larger sign would benefit the business much more than the old regulatory maximum of 25 square feet and questioned Litmer as to why the pharmacy needed a larger sign if it wasn't specifically going to use it for advertisement purposes. Mr. Amann also pointed out to Mayor Ken Wynn that the sign for the coffee shop the mayor owns has already grown since the first reading of the resolution and that it is an example of how other local businesses will do the same with the new larger maximum.

“The sign that I saw at your coffee shop was three feet by ten feet. Now it's five by eight,” Amann said to the mayor. “I think this big of a sign is going to be a disaster for Ludlow in the future.”

Once the amendment was passed with a 3-2 vote, it seemed a bit of tension briefly lingered in the air before the council quickly moved on to the next issue on the agenda.

Also at Thursday's meeting, city council also approved funds of $56,000 to be spent on repairs to the roof and windows of the fire house building on Oak Street. It was determined that the original windows could be repaired rather than replaced.

Another city ordinance that was amended was that of rental property inspections. The change allows the city to check the outside of buildings to ensure that building facades remain kept up as well as the ground around the rental properties. The changes are intended to ensure that renters are treated fairly and in habitable places.

Written by Bryan Burke, Associate Editor

Photo: Ludlow Pharmacy sign/RCN file