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City bans woman’s Blues Factory sign from public lot PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 12 July 2017 18:04

Official asks police to intervene, says resident can’t post message questioning developer’s sign on lakefront site

    Port Washington police, acting on a directive from City Hall, told a woman who posted an opposition message on a large sign promoting the Blues Factory lakefront entertainment complex not to place her sign there again.
    Rae Mitchell, who on July 4 posted a message questioning why officials allowed the Blues Factory sign on the city-owned north marina slip parking lot and urging residents to contact their aldermen, said she may seek a permit to erect her own sign on the site.
    But city officials said this week they will not allow her to do that.
    “You can’t just put that on the property —no one can. It is city property, and the Common Council controls the property,” City Administrator Mark Grams said.
    “We’re already working with a developer,” he added, noting the city has a signed developer’s agreement and offer to purchase for the land.
    The most recent controversy over the Blues Factory was sparked last week when developer Gertjan van den Broek erected a large sign promoting the Blues Factory on the city-owned parking lot.
    Van den Broek — like several other developers in the process of buying city land — applied for and received a sign permit for a development sign, a temporary sign designating or promoting the future use of a new commercial or residential building or development, said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development.
    The Common Council was notified of this in May and offered tacit approval, with no aldermen objecting.
    Shortly after van den Broek’s sign appeared, a small lawn sign opposing the sale of the parking lot was placed in front of it, and on July 4 Mitchell taped a message to van den Broek’s sign questioning the placement of the Blues Factory sign.
    “Is it right that a private enterprise can put a sign advertising their potential development on this city property, your property? This is not a done deal,” the message read.
    Mitchell said last week that the message was removed several times, although she doesn’t know by who, and she replaced it throughout the day.
    She didn’t post it again after July 4, Mitchell said Tuesday. But on July 6, she was notified by police that she was not to put the message up on the sign again.
    Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said Grams asked his department to contact Mitchell about the sign.
    “They (the Blues Factory) had permission to put their sign up. She did not,” he said.
    Tetzlaff noted that even yard signs, such as the “Don’t Sell our Parking Lot” signs erected by Blues Factory opponents, require permission from the property owner before they are placed. They should not be put  in the public right of way, parkway or terrace, although many are, he added.
    “As owner of the parking lot property, the city will not grant permission to place those signs there,” he added. “Any signs that are placed there will be removed.”
    Mitchell said she is looking at other ways to get her message across.
    “That (Blues Factory) sign makes it seem like they’re ready to move on this soon,” she said. “This is still city property.”
    One possibility, she said, is to ask the city for permission to post her own sign.
    “It can’t hurt to ask,” she said. “We’d like to get out the information.”
    Mitchell noted that when she posted her message, she took care not to obscure the Blues Factory message on its sign and used tape that would not damage the larger sign.
    “It was as respectful a rebellion as I could think of,” she said.
    Public reaction to her sign has been positive, Mitchell said.
    “I have received a lot of support from a lot of people,” she said.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 12 July 2017 18:05
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