CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Zoning regulations often provide a good excuse for Charleston officials to get rid of old signs that are too big or tall to meet current standards.
Once you take an out-of-compliance sign down, even for repairs, you can't put it back up without getting a variance from the city's Board of Zoning Appeals.
On Thursday, three business owners hope to convince zoning board members that their signs are special -- historic, even iconic -- and deserve to be preserved.
There's Budget Tapes & Records, where a peace-loving hippie has been gazing at MacCorkle Avenue traffic for 41 years.
Downtown, Reaford Walker hopes to make two vintage signs at the Firestone tire shop -- one vertical, one horizontal -- look good as new.
In Elk City, Fountain Hobby Center has the mayor in its corner.
"It's something you see when you cross the bridge into the West Side," Mayor Danny Jones said of the giant key-shaped sign that hangs off the corner of the building at Bigley Avenue and Washington Street.
The neon-lit sign, which dates back to 1947, hasn't worked properly in years, a store employee said.
Reaford Signs can fix it but would have to take it to the shop for sandblasting, repainting and electrical repairs. But because projecting signs like this are not allowed under city zoning laws, it needs a variance to be re-hung.
"Whatever it takes, we'd like to see it fixed," the mayor said Tuesday. "The aesthetic value of the sign means a lot. I've been on this kick for 10 years -- if we're going to make the West Side look good, you have to start there."
Store owner Shirley Morse also has the backing of West Side Main Street, which has promised a $1,000 grant for the repair, director Stephanie Johnson said.