A motion to deny approval of the Ink Masters Tattoo Studio sign was voted down at the Thursday, Sept. 9, Heritage Preservation Commission meeting. Commission members Shannon Simpson, Curtiss Thompson, and Glenda Felty voted against the motion, while Becky Kauffman and Peggy Crabtree were in favor of the denial. Commission member Jeff Smith was absent from the meeting.
The item was first brought to the commission’s attention during the public comment period at its Aug. 12 meeting by Ink Masters owner Cyle Corse, who said he was unaware the sign was in violation until he received a code enforcement notice. The sign went up in October 2020 and Corse said he was under the impression all steps had been followed by the sign company he hired. The sign was found not to have a permit from the city and had not been approved by the HPC, which is charged with the preservation of properties in the downtown historic overlay district. Corse was absent from the Sept. 9 meeting.
Commission chairman Becky Kauffman remained steadfast in her viewpoint that what she previously referred to as a “plastic” sign doesn’t fit with the historic nature of downtown.
“Our design guidelines are very clear that this type of sign, the size of it, and everything else is inappropriate for our historic downtown,” Kauffman said. “It is an inappropriate sign in my opinion. The design guidelines are so great, especially for people who are learning about historic preservation, and the city paid a lot of money for them. It seems to me, as a commission, we need to go by the rules of our design guidelines. If we go by the rules, this sign is not appropriate.”
Crabtree also said the sign shouldn’t remain. She shared information from the National Park Service, which has set some of the guidelines for historic preservation, about signs on buildings in historic areas.
“[The National Park Service] says that signs should work with the building and not against it,” Crabtree said. “New signs should respect the size, scale, and design of the historic building. All of the features of the building should reflect a motif for signs. New signs should also reflect the neighboring buildings and not overshadow adjacent structures. I just worry about this new plastic over metal. It is in no way historic material. In no way form or fashion is this sign compatible with our historic downtown.”
At the Aug. 12 meeting Simpson, Felty, and Thompson all said they thought the sign should remain in place.
Simpson, who is the curator for the Ellis County Museum, noted then that downtown has had a mixture of signage over the years with “some signs back then that were in better taste than other signs.”
Anita Simpson, the city’s downtown development director and heritage preservation officer, told the commission at the Aug. 12 meeting that Ink Masters’ former next-door neighbor, Community National Bank, had a sign made of similar materials up for three years that didn’t come before the commission for approval.
The signage item will now go before the city council at a future meeting.