Pizza shop fights to keep landmark sign

rpulley@lsjournal.comJune 27, 2014 

A Lee’s Summit business is rallying support for a landmark sign – Pappi’s Pizza – that’s been in place four decades, but the city demands it torn down.

Ownership of the former Pappi’s Pizza building on Blue Parkway changed in May, with the new owner moving a locally-owned Fun House Pizza from Douglas Street to the location.

Jim Dingman, the owner, said the Blue Parkway site had opened as a Fun House originally in 1972, run by owners who had started their first shop in Raytown. It’s name soon changed to Pappi’s in early 1973, he said.

Last week he said he received a certified letter from the city ordering him to remove the pole sign, a requirement because regulations changed since it was erected and the property had new ownership.

Dingman then put a question on Facebook asking if he should attempt to save the sign:

“Worth the Fight?? Please voice your opinion and Share with your Friends in the Community.

The City of Lee’s Summit has Ordered us to Completely remove our Pole Sign due to “a public complaint.” We think that the sign should be amended to Say FUN HOUSE PIZZA and left up. We think that since this Sign has been in the Lee’s Summit Skyline for 42 years it should fall under Historic Preservation. We can file for a Special use permit for a fee to the city, Which we will do if You the Community feel it is worth the Fight ??????????????” [sic].

The answer so far has been a solid yes from a wide majority of 512 comments posted (as of The Journal’s deadline).

“It’s a Lee’s Summit Icon! It must stay! I am sick of all the NEW signs around town ... i.e. Kohls, Macy’s, JC Penny, Noodles...really why would LS need a Noodles? Just sayin.” –Christy Vinson

“... that’s like telling Keystone, South Dakota, ‘I know Mt. Rushmore has been there 90 years, but we’re going to change it to Obama...’” – Jason Pryor.

A few others want it removed or at least updated.

“I remember Pappi’s as a kid. It actually had ok pizza and an awesome arcade ... Take it down if Pappi’s is gone.”– Nathan Peters

“Well it’s not Pappi’s no more so you should update it.”– Tricia Odom

Some would like to see the sign modified to include the new ownership but remain in place or, if taken down, moved inside to preserve history.

Dingman said his decision was to go to City Hall June 30 and apply for a permit for the current sign. He said he would be willing to do updates as part of the process.

Bob McKay, director of the city’s planning and codes enforcement, said that after the ordinance changed to forbid pole signs, an owner of a property with a pole sign can continue to use it, but once ownership changes a new establishment has to remove it.

“We’ve been enforcing that all over the city,” he said.

McKay said June 26 the city can’t accept the application as filed earlier because pole signs are prohibited. He said Dingman could make application to the Board of Zoning Adjustments for a variance, but his department would not support a variance. McKay said the department would reach out to the owner to discuss alternatives for modifying the sign that could be acceptable.

“There may be a way to use the same type of sign ... perhaps by bringing it lower,” McKay said. “If they want a nostalgic look that’s fine, as long as it’s in compliance.”

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