The D.C. City government has ordered that a large electrified Marriott hotel sign be torn down from a new hotel in Northwest Washington after it discovered that the sign was too high and from some vantage points appeared to be attached to the Washington Monument.
James E. Fahey, zoning administrator for the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, said yesterday that a secretary in the zoing office mistakenly typed a permit for the red and white nine-foot-high, 55-foot-long sign. It was erected over the hotel being built atop Blackie's House of Beef at 22nd and M streets NW.
"The application didn't have final approval," Fahey said, "but the clerk was misled because of a fee was listed on it. She figured it was okay to go ahead and type the permit. . . . We have taken steps to see this doesn't happen again."
The city issued the permit on June 20 to Blackie's House of BEEF-U. G. Auger Enterprises, allowing the firm to construct six signs at the hotel. Now 85 percent complete, the hotel is owned by the Auger corporation and will be managed by Marriott.
Officials say the largest of the signs, which sits 100 feet off the ground, atop the building on its 22nd street side, is illegal because its heights exceeds the city's 90-foot limit for that area.
The error was discovered Wednesday, after Georgetown residents and Ward 3 City Council member Polly Shackleton complained that the sign, which has been glowing on the city's monumental skyline for several weeks, was an eyesore.
With the discovery of the error, Fahey ordered the permit revoked.
"We expect Mr. Auger is not going to be happy," said Emily Durso, legislative aide to Shackleton. "I'm sure he won't go down without a fight." l
Ulysses G. (Blackie) Auger, owner of the well-known Blackie's House of Beef restaurant and head of U.G. Auger Enterprises, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
"These things just happen sometimes," said Fahey.