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City orders Original Pizza Place to stop building sign

Following several discussions concerning placement, size, and content of signage based upon safety within a city right-of-way and applicable zoning requirements and restrictions, another sign dispute caused city action and discussion in the last week.

This wasn’t the jovial “sign war” between North Hills Lanes and Gator’s Easy Wind Pub in Marietta, nor the neighboring concerns on Colegate Drive following land deal losses previously reported upon in March by the Times.

The regulation of signage in both content, size and placement has been an ongoing debate across terms of Marietta City Council dating at least back to the discussions when past councilmembers Roger Kalter and Kathy Downer brought eyes to clear passage for pedestrians on a sidewalk (sandwich boards) and aesthetic preference (flashing LED, or fluorescent moving message signs).

But this time, the city has issued a cease and desist letter to the owners of The Original Pizza Place on Second Street for beginning construction of a sign above the grandfathered protruding movie theater marquee which serves as a permanent awning above outdoor tables for the restaurant.

Council discussed the letter and preceding events during Planning, Zoning, Annexation and Housing Committee on Tuesday, but this was not the first time the committee alongside Streets Committee has discussed the restaurant in the last year.

“I believe that Ms. (Susan) Boyer indicated to the owner the last time they were here, ‘you can’t do that,'” recalled City Law Director Paul Bertram.

“The way that was explained was that we were not permitted to authorize someone to break the law,” clarified Chairman Geoff Schenkel.

Last year, the restaurant’s owner Mike Ruscitto, and Kasandra Ruscitto Pritchett, community relations manager, were told in public committee that they would not be permitted to erect a new sign upon the face of the Second Street building that protruded perpendicularly over the city’s sidewalk.

In Marietta City Codified Ordinances, Chapter 1123, section 7, the law states:

A new fixture protrudes above the old movie theater marquee at the Original Pizza Place this week. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

“In a ‘C-4’ Downtown Commercial District no person, firm or corporation shall erect, place or maintain any sign that projects at right angles from the building to which it is attached, nor that extends more than two feet in any direction from the building to which it is attached, nor that extends or projects over any street, sidewalk or other public way in the city.”

The business, though obtaining a building permit from the Southeast Ohio Building Department for the construction of the new sign, failed to obtain the blessing of the city engineering department who also handles the zoning determinations in tandem with the city law director.

The sign regulation cited falls within the city’s Part 11 Planning and Zoning Code.

When reached for comment Wednesday, Pritchett asked for the Times to receive a call from the business’s lawyer George Cosenza but no call was received by press time Thursday.

Past Times coverage of signage debates also includes April 11 and 26, and Oct. 3 of 2019 and April 15 of this year.

Councilwoman Susan Boyer explains the reasoning behind proposing an additional procedural requirement for building structures and improvements within the city. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

Marietta Engineering Project Manager Dave Hendrickson explains the reasons cited in a cease and desist letter to the Original Pizza Place for erection of a sign above city right-of-way Tuesday. (Photo by Janelle Patterson)

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