shop struggles with sign ordinance
MANASSAS PARK – Jim Eskins, owner of the Manassas Park Barber Shop on
Centreville Road, has a problem with the city. His business needs visibility
to draw in customers, but the city won’t let him keep his sign, and that’s
going to hurt his business, he said.
“I think Manassas Park should be trying to work with me, not trying
to take down my signs,” he said, referring to his double-posted, wooden
sign set in the grass next to Centreville Road.
Eskins’ sign is only one of several that has been found to be a violation
of city and state codes, said Dan Painter, the city’s new planning and zoning
director, who since his hiring earlier this year has stepped up enforcement
of the rules for business signs along Centreville Road to improve its appearance.
“Rule No. 1: You have to have a permit for a sign,” Painter
Eskins had a temporary framed sign, which is not allowed in the city
and cannot be permitted, Painter said.
U-Haul had temporary signs and took them down, Painter said, just like
the sign Exxon took down, and the sign taken down by the A to Z Pawn shop
in the Manassas Park Shopping Center. They complied, but Eskins did not.
“He just takes my sign and doesn’t tell me it’s illegal,” said
Eskins, who has also owned Peoples Barber Shop in Old Town for the past
12 years. “This is America, not Russia. He took my sign. You just don’t
Eskins then put up a wooden sign, but it’s not allowed because it is
within 15 feet of the roadway, Painter said. Eskins said the previous owner
was allowed to have a wooden sign at the same place, which according to
Melvin Pritchard, who has owned the adjacent House of Leather for 35 years,
had been there for more than a decade.
“Nobody said a word about that sign when it was there,” Pritchard
Eskins said he is also not allowed to post prices for haircuts in his
window or on signs – his competitors across the county line can use temporary
signs and post their prices.
Painter said that regardless, Manassas Park has its own set of regulations,
and there are no city records of a permit for a sign at that location, and
there are no grandfathered signs in the city. Eskins should have checked
before he moved in to see if the previous sign was legal, he said.
“He can apply for a sign that meets the code in another location,”
Painter explained, reading the state requirement that says a 15-foot setback
must be maintained from “highway” to outdoor advertising, with
some exceptions and “highway” defined as just about any roadway,
Councilwoman Jonell Pizzola, whose next door neighbor Verlin Bryant was
the previous owner of the barber shop before he died last fall, said she
sympathizes with Eskins, but rules need to be followed. It is a balance
between maintaining a certain appearance for the city and for small businesses,
which “in a small city, you’ve got to do what you can to try and attract
business, so I’m sure it’s rough on him,” she said.
“People have complained to the [City Council] that it almost appeared
to be, ‘Why isn’t the city enforcing the rules? Why are they not consistent?'”
Mayor Bill Treuting said. “We agree, the city code should be consistent
and equally enforced, and if this is what is approved,” then it must
be enforced, he said.
Painter said he will continue enforcing the rules. The Farrish Suzuki
no longer has balloons on its signs for sales, in accordance with city codes,
he said. And soon Capital Furniture will have to replace the light bulbs
in its sign to keep its appearance up, he said.
For Eskins his dispute with the city goes to court May 10.