SITKA (AP) The manager of a fur gallery is sparring with city officials over a 55-by-10-foot advertising banner that went up last weekend near the town's main intersection.
Shortly after the sign promoting the Sitka Fur Gallery and Baranof Jewelers appeared, city officials said they started receiving complaints about it.
The sign, hanging on a wall facing the corner of Lincoln Street and Harbor Drive, features letters more than 3 feet tall designed to mimic the texture of fur, as well as a pitch for the jewelry store.
City Planner Wells Williams said that in recent memory the only time he can remember getting as many calls was when businesses displayed extremely large advertising balloons on Halibut Point Road.
In the case of the balloons, Williams said, some calls were positive, but all of the calls about the Fur Gallery and Baranof Jewelers sign have been by people objecting to it.
But Fur Gallery Manager Marcus Hernandez said he has received positive feedback, and he personally finds it to be a beautiful sign.
''We just wanted to make a pretty sign, and a lot of businesses have said, 'That's a good sign,''' Hernandez said.
It hangs on the outside wall of the building erected a few years ago on the site of the old Neill Andersen Store. It now houses a postal substation and shops operated by the Fur Gallery and Baranof Jewelers.
Before the sign went up, the bare gray wall of the building was ugly, Hernandez said.
Williams said he has sent a letter of enforcement to the managers of the two stores, stating that the sign is in violation of city code and must be removed by Aug. 15.
''You can't take up more than 15 percent of a wall of a building, and our rough calculations have that sign taking up 25 percent,'' Williams said.
But Hernandez said he did his homework before hanging the banner. By his interpretation of city code, not only is his sign legal, but a number of other signs in town are not.
He said the sign cost $4,000 and he intends to keep it up through the end of the tourist season. Hernandez contends that makes it a temporary sign, which he said is legal under the city code.
The city code limits the size of signs to 15 percent of the wall area, but also says that ''temporary signs in windows, such as sales banners, are not included in this restriction.''
Hernandez said that if he can't bring Williams around to his interpretation of the code, he may ultimately remove part of the banner to bring it into compliance.
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