PAWS in desperate need of new signage
Scrolling electronic messages on hold for ordinance review
On Dec. 21, the Indian Head planning commission met to discuss the new sign request of the Potomac Animal Wellness Services (PAWS). The full-service veterinary clinic located in Indian Head has been seeking new, creative ways to attract visitors to the clinic and sought approval from the commission for a new, electronic sign.
PAWS practice manager Shari Whitney said the clinic plans to place a pole on the northern side of the parking lot where its current sign is located. She said the sign would potentially have LED lighting with scrolling words showing different business-related promotions to passing cars.
“So many people are missing our present sign,” Whitney said. “It’s only been there for less than two years. It is falling down so we are trying to get a new sign so people can see that we’re there. They come up on our street so quickly and are so late getting there because they call and say they can’t find us.”
PAWS was founded in February 2015, when Dr. Derek Parkin and his wife Claire bought the clinic formerly known as Glymont Animal Hospital. The clinic offers routine services such as vaccines, spay- ing/neutering and annual check-ups, as well as emergency/critical care, advanced soft-tissue and orthopedic surgery with progressive pain management and palliative end-of-life care.
At the Dec. 21 meet- ing, Vice Mayor Ron Sitoula asked if PAWS needs the new signage for tax implications at the end of the year. He said at this time small businesses are trying to maximize their tax implications and could stand as a reason for the clinic wanting to get the sign up as soon as possible.
Whitney said it is simply because the clinic’s current sign is falling apart and they need to do something to replace it. She said the clinic’s goal is to obtain a sign permit and then start construction immediately, once the planning commission gives its approval.
Michael Pellegrino, chair of the planning commission, said at the moment the zoning ordinance does not allow the scrolling of words on a sign. The ordinance is current- ly under review by the planning commission members. He suggest- ed the commission make a recommenda- tion, along with approval of the sign.
“We are still reviewing the zoning ordinance so if there were a question about revisiting that then the planning commission can do that. There must have been a reason why it was not listed in the ordinance — it’s [distracting] for drivers,” Pellegrino said.
Planning commission member Thomas Blake disagreed.
“I would like to revisit that because when I see the scrolling, LED lighting on business signs, it’s creative, catchy, and that’s one of the reasons why they have it. It’s new and it’s needed,” Blake said. “If the intent of an ordinance is for safety then that’s good, but having a sign period could be distracting. I think in today’s world it’s important for businesses to be creative so I would like to revisit that in the zoning code.”
“If it, scrolling, would hold up the process, then we can change it to non-scrolling with an LED message,” Whitney said. “We would like to get the sign up as soon as possible so we can go with a fixed message and then revisit it after you guys review the ordinance.”
The planning commission agreed to approve the sign along with the recommendations and conditions that the business hold off on the scrolling words until they revise the zoning ordinance.
The words on the PAWS sign are to remain stationary in the meantime.