St. Paul walks fine line on signs

The owner of a St. Paul sex shop plans to sue the city over a sign.

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The City Council yesterday denied The Love Doctor permission to add a new sign to its University Ave. storefront.

“If I was anybody else, there wouldn’t even be a question,” owner Troy DeCorsey said. “I have a right to have what everybody else has.”

Virtually all the neighboring businesses have similar “projecting signs” hanging over the sidewalk. But in 2011, St. Paul changed the zoning rules for the area and placed restrictions on future signs in an effort to combat “visual clutter.”

DeCorsey says he needs the sign because the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit stop in front of his store obscures the visibility of his existing signs. Since construction on the line began, DeCorsey says revenue has fallen 50 percent, costing him about $30,000 a month in sales.

But the City Council ruled that was insufficient grounds for a variance.

“It just opens a Pandora’s box,” said Council Member Russ Stark, who represents the neighborhood where the store is located.

Stark said allowing the sign would create a loophole allowing any business near a light rail stop to circumvent the city’s zoning ordinance.

Stark raised similar concerns last year, when the council allowed a Grand Ave. toy store to erect two 18-foot-tall cartoon cats in front of its entrance.

The council ruled Creative Kidstuff’s lion and tiger images were sculptures, not signs, and thus were immune from the zoning restrictions. Stark cast the lone dissenting vote that day.

The council vote to block The Love Doctor’s sign was unanimous.

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