MetroScene is biased on this one. Nobody, let's state at the outset, wants any part of Washington to resemble the scruffy neon gaudiness of New York's Times Square. But for some time, I've felt the two understated flashing electric signs at Connecticut Connection, the open-sided arcade atop the Farragut North subway station at Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW, added just about the right amount of liveliness to an otherwise bland streetscape.
Wouldn't you know: somebody complained.
Robert H. Neuman, a lawyer who has his office in a new building diagonally across the intersection, complained in March to the city's Department of Community and Regulatory Affairs that the 5-by-5-foot sign, with its illuminated letter "C," violates city building regulations against outdoor flashing signs.
In a subsequent letter stating his case, Neuman asserted that he and others "are continually annoyed and distracted . . . the sign is . . . a hazard to motorists . . . and cheapens an otherwise dignified avenue." (Neuman also said yesterday he opposes another sign that flashes news bulletins and community notices, but would deal with that later.)
The department agreed with Neuman and told Miller Connecticut Avenue Associates, owners of the building, to remove the sign. The firm refused and appealed the decision to the D.C. Board of Appeals and Review, which heard the case yesterday.
Here the issue gets technical. It revolves around whether the disputed sign is outdoors or located inside a building. Louis P. Robbins, lawyer for the building owner, contended the sign is inside a covered arcade and hence is legally indoors and immune from regulation; Neuman and Assistant D.C. Corporation Counsel Serena Davis contended it is outdoors and is covered by the building regulations.
Irena Karpinski, chairman of the hearing panel, said a decision might be reached next month.