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Wisconsin Dells Offers Historic-Sign Plan

(May 2016) posted on Mon May 02, 2016

Businesses have until the end of 2017 to file for exemptions to sign-code changes


By Steve Aust

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Like many places whose economies focus on tourism, Wisconsin Dells officials walk a fine line between evolving to appeal to new generations of visitors, yet maintaining vestiges of heritage and local color. The municipality’s Design Review Committee (DRC) took a wise step in providing owners of its historic businesses with an opportunity to protect their signs.
The DRC is giving Wisconsin Dells’ proprietors until December 31, 2017 to apply for “legacy sign” designations for their signs, which will exempt them from provisions enacted with the town’s recently completed sign ordinance and publication of a guidebook that summarizes regulations for its downtown signage, according to www.wiscnews.com.
The DRC defines legacy signs as those associated with “lives of persons important in the past that embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, region or method of construction … and whether a sign has yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important in history the sign exemplifies the cultural, economic and historic heritage of Wisconsin Dells.”
Prime examples cited in the article include Paul Bunyan’s Cook Shanty, a restaurant and gift shop that features colossal sculptures of the mythical lumberjack alongside Babe the Blue Ox, and the double-faced, neon sign that identifies Winnebago Fine Goods and Gift Shop.
Kudos to Wisconsin Dells officials for such a fair-minded, transparent effort to preserve its historically significant signage. Hopefully, more municipalities will make similar efforts.
 


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