New exterior signs for downtown businesses: who approves them?

I’ve noticed at least two new exterior signs for businesses downtown Northfield in the past few weeks:

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Left: The Kuyper Group – Re/Max Results between 3rd and 4th on Division.
Center: Bierman’s Home Furnishings & Floor Covering at the corner of 5th and Division.

Who approves exterior signage downtown? Why it’s your fellow citizens who serve on the City of Northfield’s Heritage Preservation Commission. They revised their Downtown Preservation Design Guidelines document back in 2004 and it includes a section on exterior signage and lighting (PDF).


  1. Jerry Bilek said:

    Love that Bierman’s sign, looks like another Jim Bonhoff design. I’ve been before the HPC twice for signs and exterior building changes. It helps to have someone like Jim on your side. He knows the process and walks you through it.

    I was told the blue on “Goodbye, Blue Monday” did not project a true blue monday. Apparently, everyone read Vonnegut’s novel and had a different take on it than I did. As to exterior lighting, modern and generic is considered preferable to anything with style.

    May 24, 2007
  2. Griff Wigley said:

    ‘True blue’? I don’t get it, Jerry. Say more!

    FYI, for others re: GBM: Breakfast of Champions:

    The naming convention of the book, which uses an alternate title (“Goodbye Blue Monday”), looks to have been inspired by Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoons.

    May 25, 2007
  3. Jerry Bilek said:

    I submitted the original sign for GBM. met with the HPC. In general, they approved of the sign because we followed the rules. Someone commented the shade of blue did not “say Goodbye Blue Monday.” A discussion about the shade of blue ensued. I sat there like an idiot trying to defend the blue and explained the blue could actually look darker or lighter on the final product. I was presenting a sample on paper not the finished sign on wood. I realized I had one shot at this because they meet once a month and we were days from opening. Nod your head and say yes to all recommendations Jerry, then make a sign that works. There are no teeth in recommendations.

    Look around downtown and figure out which signs or exteriors are in violation of the HPC rules. There are many. If you bring it before the HPC, they can shoot it down. If you make the change, they don’t make you change it. The best way to handle it is to talk to Dan Olson. He is very helpful and can walk you through the process and the HPC will approve the project if meets the guidelines.

    Paint color and lighting are a mystery to me.

    May 25, 2007
  4. v summa said:

    HPC – can’t live w/them…can’t kill them! Don’t ask – they try to defend the status quo of generations ago. Difficult, inbred and a thankless task. Color magic defies all logical thinking… as if no one 100 years ago had bad [or zesty] taste. Jerry’s advice is good. Take it!

    May 25, 2007
  5. Jerry Bilek said:

    I think the HPC is very well intentioned. Good people and I like them and what they do. However, they need to realize this is business and DT competes with Hwy 3 businesses. Apparently you can build anything you like on Hwy 3 including a carwash that looks like a circus ride, but change a paint color downtown and they can tell you from B&W photos your color choice is not historic. And what is so great about color choices in 1879 or lights for that matter. The front of my building is from the 1940s or 50s and we choose color and lights from the 1870s?

    May 25, 2007
  6. John S. Thomas said:

    HPC or no HPC, I think that the Biermans sign is very well done, and works well with that placement.

    May 25, 2007

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