By SHELLEY TERRY
ASHTABULA - - A landlord in the historic Ashtabula Harbor is singing the blues after the city removed his tenants' signs from the front of his building.
Brad Wight has owned the building at 1025 Bridge St. for 25 years.
Last week, city workers took down tenant Heather DeMarco's Harbor Perk sign and the upstairs tenant Jillian DeMarco's Fifth Street Fitness sign after warnings from the Architectural and Restoration Review Board that the signs did not comply with municipal code.
The city repeatedly asked Wight to hang the signs with chains, not brackets, and to repaint the coffee cup.
"I'm at my wit's end," Wight said Tuesday. "The city stole my signs."
Wight and the review board have been going back and forth over the signs ever since he hung both signs together. However, his tenants each received a city permit to create a sign, and he got a permit to hang the signs. Jillian DeMarco's camera-ready art was approved, as well as Heather DeMarco's sketch.
"Then I was handed both signs, assembled them together and hung them," Wight said.
According to letters from the review board, members didn't like the 3-D coffee cup and the way the signs were separated: a fitness sign with a wooden coffee cup attached at the bottom.
On several occasions, the board suggested alterations, but to no avail.
Building inspector William Jepson sent Wight a letter Aug. 9, ordering him to remove the signs. Wight didn't comply with the order.
Consequently, the city took down the signs Sept. 11 and charged Wight $300.
"It's all so idiotic and stupid," Wight said. "It makes you wonder what is going on here."
City Manager Anthony Cantagallo said he's looking into the history of the signs.
Ann Rapose, review board chairwoman, could not be reached for comment.
Wight owns other properties in the Ashtabula Harbor, but after refurbishing the building at 1025 Bridge St. and leasing it to two successful businesswomen, he doesn't understand why the signs are such a big deal.
"This is what (city officials) want on Bridge Street," he said. "It's what they die for: a really nice place to come."
Ashtabula Harbor's historic district is home to the restored 1935 lift bridge, several unique shops, restaurants, museums and public parks, which offer views of the Ashtabula Harbor and Ashtabula Lighthouse.
The Architectural and Restoration Review Board was put into place about five years ago to oversee the historical integrity of the district.
Star Beacon Print Edition: 9/21/2006