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Not a sign of the times

by: JEFF MCDONALD  - The city of Mount Angel sent a letter to the owner of the Drunken German saying this sign was out of compliance. The projecting sign does not meet the citys new code ordinance. This time, controversy over the Drunken German bar and restaurant in Mount Angel is not about its name, but its sign.

Bar owner David Borchers has raised his concerns about a letter he received from the city of Mount Angel saying his new sign did not meet code.

At issue is not what is on the sign, but how far it sticks out from the wall.

Borchers is at odds with a new ordinance that would require the placement of his sign to lie flat against the façade. His current sign, which he put up in June without a permit, projects out toward the street.

“If (the code) was changed, how come the last occupant was allowed to use the sign?” Borchers asked the city council last week. “It’s a nice, clean sign. Everything about the sign is the same except I added vinyl lettering.”

Borchers received international attention in March when some community members found his bar’s name offensive. He had operated without a sign for several months, but put up the new sign inside an already existing frame.

The projecting frame had been allowed following changes in the city’s development code as a grandfathered use under previous ownership, but the sign had been vacant during the change in ownership long enough to fall out of code, said Kelsey Lewis, assistant to the city administrator.

But it is not clear how long the sign was “abandoned,” or left vacant, Lewis said.

“Any new signs must meet the current (Mount) Angel Development Code,” Lewis wrote in a June 14 letter.

Borchers contends he should get an exception because the previous owner had one. The city encouraged Borchers to remove the sign and apply for a new sign permit that meets the sign code. Borchers could face civil fines and the cost of removal.

After the meeting, the city will review whether Borchers can keep his sign despite it being a non-conforming use. The issue could go to the planning commission for review. Until then, the sign can stay up, according to the city council.



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