By Don Nelson
Mike Kutz will be required to remove the recently painted signage on his Bunkhouse Inn lodging establishment in Winthrop, but the town will pay the cost of removing and replacing the signs.
Cindy Hicks, the town’s Westernization regulations administrator, said this week that town officials will meet with Kutz to talk about what needs to be done and how much it might cost.
While the signage Kutz put on both ends of the building violates Winthrop’s zoning code — a finding that the Town Council affirmed at its meeting last week — Kutz had been following the guidance of the town’s Westernization Architectural Committee (WAC), which approved the signage plans Kutz submitted.
“He [Kutz] did everything he was supposed to do,” Hicks said.
After Kutz painted the Bunkhouse Inn signs, a neighbor, Peter Larsen at 225 Bridge St., complained to the town that what he called the “large, billboard type sign” on the end of the Bunkhouse Inn facing his property is not in compliance with the town’s zoning code.
Town officials agreed. The Bunkhouse Inn is in a B1 business zone, where buildings are limited to one sign with a total coverage area of 9 square feet. The Bunkhouse Inn has a sign painted on each end of the building.
When the WAC approved the Bunkhouse Inn signage, the committee was not aware of the B1 restrictions. The town council moved last week to close the gap between the zoning code and the Westernization regulations to avoid such confusion in the future.
While council members didn’t find the Bunkhouse Inn signage offensive, they agreed that the zoning code should be enforced. At the same time, they said they don’t want to be dealing with such issues on a regular basis.
“Someone has to be responsible at Town Hall,” council member Rick Northcott said. “I don’t want signs to come to us for approval.”
Northcott, a contractor, estimated that it might cost several thousand dollars to rectify the signage problem.
Larsen, who said he is a 30-year resident of Winthrop, asked the council to uphold the zoning code. “It’s the law,” he said. Larsen said that enforcing the code would, in the long run, be best for all parties.
Hicks reminded the council that the town planning commission used to review all sign permits, but that role was taken over by the WAC several years ago.
The six-unit Bunkhouse Inn opened in late 2013. It is operated by Kutz and his partner, Anna Rogers.