Ferndale has a sign ordinance that threatens to extinguish its character, too. Imagine how much difficulty Wetmores might have trying to stick half a car out its second story window given our current ordinances. Yet that car (or half-a-car) has become a Ferndale and Woodward icon every much as Alban's wheel sign.
Sign rules imperil small firms
The Feb. 11 article on the fate of Alban's freestanding sign in Birmingham should serve as a wake-up call to planning and zoning boards across the state ("Restaurant's big wheel seeks new home"). Municipalities have needlessly passed stricter sign regulations that have all but eliminated the ability of small business owners to create similar unique signs for their business.
Furthermore, the increasingly restrictive regulations on outdoor advertising stifle the ability of small businesses to compete with the ever-growing number of chain restaurants and stores. Without rethinking sign regulations, beloved landmark signs such as Alban's and other true works of art will only be seen in museums and private collections.
A couple months ago, Doug Fresard endured an interrogation from councilman Galloway that would give John McCain flashbacks. To demonstrate what a populist he is, Galloway showed no consideration for Fresard's $11 million investment in their new Ferndale Dealership and drilled him about a monument sign the dealer wanted in their front lawn. Apparently the monument wasn't compliant with the city's sign ordinance and despite evidence of its tastefulness and utility Galloway objected, wondering what good are ordinances if they aren't enforced?
After an hour's drilling, Galloway relented and Fresard was able to escape council chambers with a variance, his grandfather's watch he'd hidden someplace council wouldn't look, and a little post-traumatic-stress.
Our downtown's authenticity is born from the creativity of our businesses. I think council should give our businesses a little leeway in deciding how best to promote their businesses, spend their own marketing dollars and maybe, just maybe, create the next Ferndale icon