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City, business still at odds over Chubb Chubb sub sign

May 16, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Charles Town sub shop owner who may face a fine of up to $300 per day fine for a logo he is using feels he is being singled out and says there is growing support for his concerns.

Craig Ricketts, part owner of Fat Boys Subs, said he probably will move his business out of downtown as a result of the actions by city officials.

The issue centers on a cartoon figure named Chubb Chubb, who is shown in a store poster with his stomach hanging below his T-shirt as he gets ready to munch down on a sub.

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Last summer, the owners of Fat Boys Subs and city Historic Landmarks Commission members entered into an agreement that said the logo could not be used on an outside sign of the business at 219 W. Washington St.

City officials further said the Chubb Chubb logo should not be visible from the street.

At one point, the logo was hung inside the front window of the shop, which prompted city officials to remind sub shop owners about the agreement.

The logo eventually was moved to an inside door in the middle of the store and the sub shop owners said this week they have not heard anything from city officials since December.

About a week ago, the sub shop owners decided to put the logo back in the front window.

Craig Ricketts, who owns the shop with his brother, Brent Ricketts, and Brent's wife, Sunshine, said the logo was placed in the window because business had dropped due to revitalization work downtown.

The owners felt the logo would generate business and felt city officials would not worry about the sign with all the construction activity going on, Craig Ricketts said.

On Wednesday, the Fat Boys owners received a letter from Charles Town City Planner Sherry Kelly saying the business could be fined up to $300 per day for every day the Chubb Chubb logo is in the front window, Craig Ricketts said.

The logo was taken down, Craig Ricketts said.

Brent Ricketts said he feels that his business is being harassed by the city and said he could not believe the amount of time city officials are spending on the issue when there are drug transactions, speeding, parking violations and "tacky signs galore" in town.

Craig Ricketts said Thursday that the shop's customers are upset over the city's action, and other downtown businesses are throwing their support behind the shop.

Ricketts said he expects a group of supporters to appear at the Charles Town City Council meeting Monday night to protest the city's action.

"We got a lot of people that are angry about it," Craig Ricketts said.

Craig Ricketts said he doesn't understand why his business cannot use the logo, while another business in town is allowed to display signs in its window that use foul language and others are allowed to display their merchandise on city sidewalks.

"We think it's personal," Craig Ricketts said.

Kelly said Thursday that Fat Boys Subs is not being singled out by city officials.

Kelly said the central issue in the debate is that the owners of Fat Boys Subs agreed with Historic Landmarks Commission members that the sign would not be visible from the street.

The owners of the shop had 30 days to file an appeal, but did not, Kelly said.

Because the sub shop owners did not appeal, Kelly said she assumed they "had no problem with it. Now, suddenly they have a problem."

Regarding the business that is supposedly selling signs with offensive language, Kelly said she will investigate the situation. There are city laws that prohibit use of foul language in the downtown business area, Kelly said.

Also, businesses cannot place items on sidewalks that block them, Kelly said. The city will take corrective action if any situation like that exists.

Identifying violations can be hard to keep up with, Kelly said.

Charles Town Mayor Randy Hilton declined to comment in detail about the situation Thursday.

To "keep politics out of the issue," Hilton said the planning and zoning department and the Historic Landmarks Commission were put in control of signs downtown.

Hilton said he thought the issue over the Chubb Chubb logo had been resolved.

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