LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) – Dave Rogers is proud of his La Crosse guitar shop.
He's also proud of the sign out front.
"We've had post cards made with that sign," Rogers said. "It's even been on the cover of a book."
"We wanted the sign to have a Planet Hollywood or Hard Rock Cafe look about it, and I think we succeeded," he said.
Rogers said the sign outside his store, crafted in the form of a giant guitar, took more than a year and a half to design and $25-thousand to build.
He said he was initially worried it would need to be taken down if La Crosse's proposed sign ordinance passes.
The ordinance would limit the height of on-premise signs to 14 ft.
If passed, it would also require on-premise signs to be built monument-style, rather than merely put up on poles.
The ordinance also bans movement and interactivity on electronic signs.
Electronic signs that would comply would first need approval from the City.
But Rogers said the Chairman of La Crosse's Sign Ordinance Review Committee has assured him his sign will be given an exemption, in the interest of protecting its unique look.
If the ordinance passes, La Crosse's Board of Zoning Appeals would be permitted to grant variances to certain signs – even if they don't comply with the ordinance.
"There are always special situations that come up that the ordinance can't address," said Phil Nohr, the Board's Chairman.
But to grant those variances, Nohr said applicants would have to prove that an exemption to the ordinance is in the public's interest.
They would also have to show the board that there are certain unusual circumstances, such as a rare location or size of lot, that limit a business's options and thus should result in a variance.
Finally, Nohr said applicants would have to show potential financial hardship in the event the variance wouldn't be granted.
"We always try to abide by the spirit of the ordinance," Nohr said. "We're not a board that's there to override ordinances. We're a board there to make special exceptions based on state laws."
The City Council will cast its final vote on the proposed sign ordinance Thursday.
If passed, all signs not issued variances would have to comply with the ordinance within 15 years.
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