Published on July 30, 2015

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Organization Seeks Exemption For Large Display On Building

Posted: July 30, 2015

The New Market Board of Zoning Appeals will hold a public hearing today concerning the size of a sign installed outside the headquarters of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District.

The hearing will be at the Arthur L. Hildreth, Jr., Municipal Building, 9418 John Sevier Road, at 7:30 p.m.

The nonprofit installed a 40-foot-long sign displaying its name on the front of the building on North Congress Street on May 9, said Rob Aitcheson, director of policy and communications.

The organization, also known as the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, wants is seeking a variance request from the board to allow the sign to remain.

According to Town Manager Mike Ritchie, the sign exceeds the size limit under New Market’s ordinance by 60 percent.

“The zoning ordinance provides for two square feet of signage for every one foot of building width,” Ritchie said in an email Wednesday. “This would allow them a total of 90 square feet of signage for the front of the building.

“Instead of complying with the code, they decided to install a total of 147.8 square feet of signage … without the Town approval and knowing that it was in violation of the code while doing so.”

But Aitcheson argues the sign gives the building character.

“The whole thought … was to replicate a Victorian-era sign to try to enhance the visitor experience here in New Market,” he said.

The foundation could receive a fine from the town if the Board of Zoning Appeals declines the variance request, but Aitcheson hopes a solution can be reached soon.

“The town has the code for a reason, and I think there was miscommunication on our end and miscommunication on their end,” he said, adding that he’s hopeful the organization “can resume a good working relationship with the town and resume attracting heritage tourism to the area.”

Contact Kelly Clark at 574-6290 or