Close Menu
Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Letters: Told sign not up to par

I’m a merchant in the downtown area of Berlin, and have been for many years. I am a past president of the chamber and have done lots of community works for our lovely town.
I wish to take issue with some of the recent events a few overzealous members of our community are spearheading. Council member Lisa Hall has deemed it necessary to get rid of sidewalk tables and sandwich signs from the downtown area. Of course this will only hurt a few merchants of our great community, but why?
The ambience of our town is very nice and a few tables in front of The Globe do not hurt anyone; in fact, it brings a nice homey feel that welcomes all our guests. Something we have tried very hard over the years to get people talking about, and to encourage them to bring their friends to our gem away from the beach.
Lisa didn’t present this revelation to us, the merchants, at our monthly merchant meetings, but just went to the press and presented her case. And the effort doesn’t stop with café tables but continues to sandwich signs. The Historic District Commission is taking up the banner of getting rid of sandwich signs and here as an example, we have a 36-inch by 24-inch sign in three basic colors — teal border, white background and black letters — and painted by an artist with stenciled letters. The HDC, notably Mary Moore, found the sign not to the quality of its liking and has asked that it be removed. When I received a letter from the HDC, I went and talked to Chuck Ward, the city inspector and was informed that we were only given a temporary license and to get the sign permanently approved we had to get it redone to meet his and the HDC’s approval.
To me, this is a slap in our business face. The sign was not on Main Street, but down in front of our Pitt Street Store to get people on Main Street’s attention. The sad part is, we have to pay the town for a business license, not including any kind of signage outside of our store, which costs additional money. Then we have to bend to the wishes of some committee members’ preferences, which is not in the guidelines.
Chuck Ward expressed to me that he didn’t want people walking in the streets to go around signs. However, there are only a few places in town that the sidewalk is limited. Main Street has on one side of the street a 6-foot-wide or larger sidewalk, which can accommodate any sign, so the effort to get rid of these informational and direction markers for the side street merchants is not a productive move.
If you check out old photos of Main Street, you will find the signs all over the place and even merchandise in front of stores everywhere.
Our town has grown and we present a clean friendly place to bring the family for a day trip so why the intrusion. Our community needs better direction than this, and friendlier officials to help keep the business community growing.
Bill Outten