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LED sign in historic Uptown Butte stirs up controversy

By Jacqueline Gedeon, KTVM Butte Reporter, jgedeon@ktvm.com
Published On: May 16 2014 05:29:17 PM MDT
Updated On: May 16 2014 07:14:04 PM MDT
BUTTE, Mont. -

An LED sign in the historic Uptown area is stirring up controversy in Butte. The owner wants attention for her business, but some think she's gone too far.

There's a flashy new sign in front of the Butte Academy of Beauty. It advertises the hair and make-up deals inside. But some historic preservationists don't like it.

"LED lights are just, in my opinion, not appropriate in the Uptown district," said Butte Citizens for Preservation and Restoration Mitzi Rossillon. "They attract your attention to the sign while we would like people to be looking at the buildings."

But that's what the Butte Academy of Beauty wants -- to remind customers they are still open for business.

"We wanted to let people know that we are still here and we're offering a variety of services, because without doing services we can't ensure that our students are going to get an adequate education," said owner Darlene Battaiola.

Rossillon won't argue the academy should be able to put up a new sign, she just wishes it was more relevant to Butte's historic theme, like a metal or wooden sign.

"You haven't heard complaints about those," she said. "It's something like this that is in your face, I think it's the fact that it's in your face that really upsets people."

"We've had three different business owners call us and say it's the best looking sign in town and they wanted to know where they could get one," said Battaiola.

Battaiola said she has not heard anything negative about the new sign, but Rossillion said she has.

"They're very upset that that's what's been chosen for that particular site," said Rossillon. "In our community you're in a historic district and there should be some sensitivity to that."

Battaiola said in the 30 years she and her husband have owned the beauty school, they have worked hard to preserve the building's historic structure.

"And we appreciate that, and we certainly support Uptown Butte and all of it's preservation means, but at the same time we have to look out for our business," she said.

Battiola said she is noticing more phone calls from students and walk-ins since putting up the sign. The sign meets all current codes.

But long before this sign, Butte-Silver Bow has been working to make regulations for sign designs and building materials used in the historic Uptown area.