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Barber poles added to sign ordinance as acceptable signage

Stephanie Long
Emmitsburg Dispatch

(6/19) The endlessly-ascending ribbons of red, white and blue circling inside a glass tube is a well-known sign of barbers that is seen in cities and town all across the country. However, until recently it would not have been allowed in Emmitsburg under its new sign ordinance.

The Emmitsburg mayor, commissioners and planning and zoning commission have been reworking the sign ordinance over the past few years and approved it in December 2007.

Recently it was brought to the attention of Town Planner Sue Cipperly that barber poles were omitted in the ordinance and due to it being considered and “animated sign” they are prohibited, which did not sit well with some.

“I would really like to keep my barber pole,” said Jaime Andrew, owner of Emmitsburg Family Barbershop & Salon. “A lot of people come in because of the pole. It has a history.”

Dee Connolly of Antiques Folly agreed with Andrews.

“The barber pole is a piece of Americana and Emmitsburg is a historic town and we need to keep this for Emmitsburg’s charm,” Connolly said.

While Andrews’ pole is safe because it was grandfathered in, any future owners of her shop would face the fate of losing the pole if the ordinance was not changed. Cipperly said that she thought the issue seemed “like more of an omission” that an intentional decision.

After a discussion by the Emmitsburg town commissioners, the decision was made to include barber poles as acceptable signage in the sign ordinance and allow only licensed barbershops to display the poles.

To ensure that no other animated signs will be allowed the sign ordinance now states that “‘Barber Pole’ is a traditional symbol used to identify the place of business of a barber. For purposes of this ordinance, a barber pole is not considered to be an animated or illuminated sign, but a traditional symbol of a service profession.”

Although the decision to change the ordinance was approved by the commissioners, Commissioner Denise Etris had concerns with changing the sign ordinance.

Although Etris appreciates the barber pole and approved the change, she asked “If we start changing the sign ordinance, what’s the point in having an ordinance?” To which Cipperly said the sign ordinance “needs work.”

Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg Town Government