As a property owner and business owner in the Chestertown national historic district, I am writing to you to express my opposition to the referenced application. The basic reasons for my opposition are several.
First, I think that a sign such as proposed clearly violates town law which prohibits signs with flashing lights or other illuminating devices. Frankly, I believe the pending theater application is just the type of device for which the prohibition was written.
In this regard, your review of the pending application is about the rule of law not popular opinion or the singular interests of a specific property or owner.
Second, it would indeed be a “slippery slope” to approve the sign because the town will have no effective control on how it is used, including by future owners of the structure. If a restaurant is put in the theatre, could it too advertise on the sign?
Third, an approval by you would be an affirmative precedent for other businesses to request and justify permits for similar signs. Actually, on that point, has the town approved the LED TV signs that are currently in use in a few local real estate offices? They do not seem to contribute to the genteel aura and integrity of the historic district after dark, probably just the opposite.
Parenthetically to the comments above, it seems that some of the support for the pending application is with an interest in reviving the commercial viability of the historic district. While that surely is an interest that we all share, I am of the view that this is no time to panic.
Even though it is experiencing some of the same recession pains that are being experienced nationwide, Chestertown’s historic district will be fine. Actually, there is good reason for hope and confidence going forward – two prominent examples are Flow Salonspa and Evergrain Bread Company where new commercial and entrepreneurial initiatives are being pursued with apparent success.
In short, those businesses and others are prospering without electric signs and so can the theater and the rest of us in Chestertown’s very special national historic district. After all, that is what it is all about, not vice versa. Think about it like this … if one owns a beautiful historic wooden boat, does it make sense or seem appropriate to fiberglass the hull with a 21st century material simply to make it “more modern?”
Thank you for your consideration of these comments and thoughts. Please make this letter a part of the formal record of your proceedings.