Property owners in Grove City's historic town center can't paint the town red anymore, unless it's an approved shade of red.

Property owners in Grove City's historic town center can't paint the town red anymore, unless it's an approved shade of red.

A new regulation passed by city council on Sept. 13 limits colors for new structures and modifications to existing buildings within the town center.

More than two dozen acceptable colors are identified on a "color palette" from a paint company brochure on historic colors of the Colonial, Federal and Victorian periods, including black, white and shades of brown and green.

City council president Ted Berry said the official adoption of the color palette was intended to streamline the approval process.

Previously, city council reviewed and approved such applications individually, after each had been approved by the city planning commission.

"The (city) administration actually wanted to be the ones to approve (changes) instead of the council," Berry said.

"The administration decided (council approval is) a cumbersome process," he said, adding that he himself didn't mind giving a thumbs up or down on proposed signs, which also are affected by the rule.

"We said if we're going to allow the administration to give approvals on this stuff, we have to make sure everybody's being treated the same. That was the primary concern."

Clerk of council Tami Kelly, who drafted the ordinance with the help of city legal counsel, said the city planning commission adopted a chart of historical colors at least five years ago with the establishment of the historical preservation area.

"It's to keep that area in key with the era in which it was built," Kelly said of the palette.

In the past, the city's development department and the planning commission would either OK color choices or encourage applicants to pick something else.

Then a recommendation would be made to council.

The new codified color chart simplifies that process.

"Rather than having to go through planning commission, the historical area would have a designated group of colors and if those colors are selected, they can go straight to the building department and do their work," she said.

According to Kelly, the code doesn't absolutely prohibit the use of other colors.

"If they want to choose something that's not a part of the approved palette, they have to go through that (old) process to get an approval," she said.

Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage agreed.

"Really, what they did was codify the colors that we had been operating under in the past," Stage said. "I think there's always room for exceptions, but the ones that are in the code are the ones they will insist on unless there's some other reason to deviate."

Berry said his main reason for supporting the color palette was to make sure that the new approval process for sign modifications is fair.

"We want to make sure that we level the playing field (for businesses) and that everybody's being treated equally," he said.

City code doesn't specify a color palette for any other area in Grove City, but it does require that residential neighborhoods have some color and style variety - homes on contiguous lots shouldn't be painted the same color, for example - and detached garages match the main building on the lot.