Little signs causing big controversy in Marlinton
Small blues signs, indicating dining and lodging in Marlinton, are causing a big stir this week. Marlinton mayor Joe Smith said the signs could be in violation of state laws, and possibly even federal guidelines since Route 39 was designated as a scenic byway.
"The state regulation is very specific," said Smith. "It says you cannot direct traffic. Those signs have arrows on them and they are directing traffic."
Smith said he hasn't been able to locate any regulations regarding scenic byways yet, but to quell the issue, he has reached out to the organization that oversees the byways. Smith has also contacted the West Virginia Department of Highways for clarification on the matter.
Smith said the signs were originally hung by "Go Marlinton!" and it was done without following proper procedures or permission from the town.
"We're not trying to deter business," he said. "It's not the signs. For me, it's whether they're legal or illegal. If they're legal, they need to go through the proper channels. You have to have permits, the town has to approve it."
"Joe [Smith] really deserves a little bit of thanks here for stopping the process and looking at what the issues are, wanting to do something to help the businesses," said Nelson Hernandez, owner of The Old Clark Inn, in Marlinton.
Smith said the issue started when the town decided to paint the lamp posts that the signs are attached to. Smith had indicated that once the signs came down, they weren't going back up.
"The reason I was gonna take 'em down, the majority of the [town] council has not liked them from the beginning," explained Smith. "They don't fit with our community. There are better, more attractive looking signs that can do the same thing. "
Smith said he doesn't think the signs are a big issue and hopes to hear something from DOH in the next couple of weeks. He added that the signs won't come down until the town receives clarification.
"If they're legal, they need to be redesigned so they're more appealing and better represent our community," said Smith. "If they're illegal, they need to come down. It's just that simple."