By GAIL PARSONS
The Abilene Area Chamber of Commerce will approach the city commission for approval to install a digital sign on the east side of the train depot building on Aug. 6.
The chamber recently moved into the building and would like to have the sign replace the static sign that currently exists at that location, said Torey Berndt, chamber executive director.
The Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Abilene Heritage Commission have both approved the sign, but not without some debate. Tim Hamilton, Community Development director, said the vote passed the Heritage Commission on a 4-0 vote, but two members who were not able to attend the meeting had expressed via e-mail that they would vote against the proposed sign if they were able to attend the meeting.
The final vote came down to whether or not a digital sign in that location would “encroach upon damage or destroy the historic character of the downtown historic district,” Hamilton said. The board determined that it would not.
“I think it will keep with the historical design,” Berndt said.
Generally, in the downtown historic district there are guidelines that set standards for any changes. However, the standards are subjective and there is a process in place to grant variances, with the final decision being made by the city commission.
“This sign is an interesting situation because it is being put inside a middle panel of an existing sign,” Hamilton said. “It is a monument sign that has been in existence for years. It probably pre-dates the historic district designation.”
One of the primary issues that the Heritage Commission reviewed was if the illumination of the sign. Those concerns were laid to rest because the sign is to have a dimming mechanism that will decrease the illumination at night to reduce glare to motorists.