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The Rockford fights to keep its signs

Posted June 4
Updated June 5

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— The Rockford, a restaurant in the Glenwood South district, has improved its visibility from a nondescript sign on its door to its name painted twice in large letters atop the Glenwood Avenue building.

“It’s not garish and thank goodness it’s not flashing neons,” said Kelly Watson while dining at the restaurant.

The change has led to increased profits and plenty of positive feedback – except from the City of Raleigh.

Turns out the sign is too big and violates the city’s sign ordinance.

“They are saying the sign can only match the square footage of our door,” said Jason Tran, Rockford chef and general manager.

That could be a problem – the restaurant is on the second floor.

The city’s planning department said the restaurant didn’t get a permit for the paintings. Now, owners of The Rockford are fighting to keep the signs and have asked the community to help by signing a petition, which has received over 1,000 signatures.

The owners also requested a variance, which would allow the signs to stay. The request is currently under review by the city’s Board of Adjustment.

The basic rule is that signs must be 2 square feet for every 1 linear foot of wall it’s attached to, said Travis Crane, the city’s planning and zoning administrator. The Rockford’s signs are roughly 250 square feet on one wall and about 80 feet on the other, Crane said.

The building, located at the corner of Glenwood Avenue and North Street, is 54 feet wide on one side and 73 feet wide on the other, Crane said. Even with the full amount of signage allowed, the sign is still too big, Crane said.

The situation is the “poster child” for why ordinance changes are needed, said city councilwoman Mary Ann Baldwin, who hopes the city and the restaurant can find a solution.

A task force is currently reviewing the city’s sign ordinance.

“One of the things they are looking at is how can we allow more creativity,” Baldwin said. “It's a balance between allowing creativity and keeping the community beautiful.”

If the signs must be removed, it could cost the restaurant up to $10,000, Tran said.

72 Comments

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  • Jun 5, 5:22 p.m.

    Yes, I guess breaking a law or rule is only bad when you don't like the rule or law. Otherwise, feel free to break any rule or law you don't like. That's the way a society is supposed to run I guess.

  • stormwaterguy Jun 5, 4:21 p.m.

    Until that Light+Tower contraption (public art?) is removed, leave the Rockford sign alone.

  • ncdime1235 Jun 5, 3:18 p.m.

    I think the sign is fine. Gives the building character. It is so much better than a neon sign. If you must, fine them, and move on.

  • cecillll Jun 5, 3:03 p.m.

    It's a great looking sign. This is extremely inconsistent with other painted signs in the area as well. One of my favorite sights in downtown is the Lincoln Theatre sign. The ratio of sign to building at Lincoln is far greater than at The Rockford. Both add to downtown and should stay. - http://goliveworkplay.com/system/photos/347/large/Lincoln%20theatre%20outside.jpg?1293703641

  • Jun 5, 2:50 p.m.

    Either they knew the rules before putting up this signage, or they did not. Either way, they either broke the rules, or failed to understand them in the first place. There isn't any gray area here. THe signs need to be removed, fines issued, and then they can reapply properly this time. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. They can abide by the rules the same as everyone else.

  • Buddy1 Jun 5, 2:30 p.m.

    The majority of the people on here think the sign should stay even though The Rockford broke the rules by painting it without permission. The arguments seem to mostly center around the fact that the sign is pretty and the rules are stupid. Of course these are the same people who would be calling for the sign to come down if it was ugly since it violated the rules.

    Interesting.

  • mockingbird313 Jun 5, 1:41 p.m.

    Shut 'em down. If they're willing to break this rule, what other laws are the willing to... View More

    — Posted by Super Hans

    Hasty much?

  • davidhartman Jun 5, 1:25 p.m.

    Sign ordinances; yet another area where municipalities have overextended their boundaries. Exactly 'who' decides what constitutes 'preserving beauty'?

    Nonsense.

  • dwntwnboy2 Jun 5, 1:25 p.m.

    The city is in the unenviable position of HAVING to say something about this because so many other businesses went through the proper channels and followed the existing rules. The city may still find a way to let this stay, but if they didn't call the Rockford on it- why would anyone else bother to follow the rules to begin with? I personally like the signs, but can see the city having to deal with this because it IS a rule violation- even if minor in the grand scheme of things.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Jun 5, 1:16 p.m.

    I really like these signs for that building. They should definitely find a way to allow for creativity without opening the door to gaudy signs. Maybe the less obtrusive they are as far as lighting and depth, the bigger they can be. If this sign had been there for years it would be something people fight to keep.

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