Council decrees 'no signs on marquee'

The Port Orchard City Council on Monday finished work on an interim sign ordinance after nearly an hour of debate and an executive session excluding Councilman Robert Geiger, who owns the Plaza Twin Theater on Bay Street and whose signage would potentially be impacted by any change.

The temporary ordinance states that businesses cannot attach signs to the marquee, but an older section of the document exempts theaters with 150 seats or more, but it was unclear at time of publication whether or not this would allow Geiger to leave his sign at its present location.

Councilwoman Carolyn Powers introduced the discussion, explaining that Geiger did not receive special treatment in the new proposal - and, in fact, she requested that Geiger remove the message welcoming the Heritage Foursquare Church that rents the upper floor of the building.

Powers said the overall discussion became overshadowed by Geiger’s theater.

“Everybody was so focused on the theater that they could not get past that,” Powers said, urging the council to look at this as a temporary ordinance. “We can argue this thing for the next six months, or we can pass this.”

She offered the councilmembers a proposal she called a win-win situation, under which businesses could display signs on the top of the marquee with approval from the city engineer.

Geiger echoed his statement that a sign has been in that location since 1923, and bemoaned complaints that the sign currently only advertises for a church and the sale of his own business.

Councilman Fred Chang, however, said the sign was in the road’s right-of-way and questioned the for-sale message’s legality.

“If youd like to contribute to the killing of more business downtown, take the sign down,” Geiger countered.

Geiger said the media attention garnered from this ordinance and his 50th anniversary at Geiger Pharmacy led to a number of calls from parties interested in purchasing the theater business.

Several members of the council, including Robert Puutansu and Rita DiIenno, stood firm that no signs should be attached to the marquee.

“I personally don’t care for any signs on the marquee,” Puutansu said.

Eventually, council exited for an executive session, while Geiger remained in council chambers. Returning to the meeting, the council voted an interim sign ordinance that does not allow signs on the marquee.

It is possible that Geiger’s sign could still remain, because the sign ordinance already contains language exempting theaters with 150 or more seats. That portion of the sign ordinance went into the municipal code years before this recent conversation began. How Geiger’s sign relates to the ordinance and whether it complies with city-wide ordinances is yet to be determined.

Mayor Kim Abel said Wednesday the only change made to the ordinance as it was presented in April is that it specifically states that signs are not allowed on top of the marquee.

* Also at Mondays meeting: Abel recognized Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police week, signing a document declaring May 15 Peace Officers Memorial Day in Port Orchard, crediting the police force with an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens.

The council directed the Planning Commission to begin drafting regulations for the wings of the Downtown Overlay District, which are the downtown areas directly east and west of the current district along Bay Street.

On Wednesday, Abel said the council offered no specific requests or direction to how that document should look.

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