PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
January 11, 2011
6:45 P.M.

I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 6:50 p.m. by Vice-Chairman, Dave Okum.


II. ROLL CALL

Members Present: Carolyn Ghantous, David Okum, Richard Bauer, Don Darby,
Tom Vanover, Steve Galster, Marge Boice

Others Present: Jonathon Wocher, Assistant City Planner; William McErlane, Building Official; Don Shvegzda, City Engineer


III. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF NOVEMBER 9, 2010

Mr. Galster moved to adopt the November 9, 2010 Planning Commission Meeting minutes, Mr. Vanover seconded the motion and the minutes were adopted with six “aye” votes, (Ms. Boice abstaining).


IV. REPORT ON COUNCIL

Mr. Galster gave a report from the previous Council meeting summarizing that the water quality changes that are detailed in the correspondence letter to Mrs. Harlow were adopted by Council.


V. CORRESPONDENCE

Vice-Chairman Okum: We have a correspondence letter to Mrs. Harlow, President
    of Council, regarding water management sediment control ordinance and subdivision regulations.


VI. ELECTIONS OF OFFICERS

Vice-Chairman Okum: First item is the Chairman position; I will open up the meeting to nominations to the position of Chairman.

Ms. Boice: I would like to nominate Mr. Don Darby for Chairman.
Mr. Vanover seconded the nomination.
Vice-Chairman Okum: Seeing there are no other nominations, we need a vote.
(With a unanimous “aye’ vote from the Planning Commission members present
Mr. Darby was accepted as the City of Springdale, Planning Commission Chairman.)

Chairman Darby: We will continue and at this time the Chair will accept nominations for the position of Vice-Chair.
Mr. Galster: I would like to nominate Mr. Dave Okum.
Mr. Vanover seconded the nomination.
Chairman Darby: Since there are no more nominations, we will accept a vote on that.
(With a unanimous “aye” vote from the Planning Commission members present
Mr. Okum was accepted as the City of Springdale, Planning Commission Vice-Chairman.)

Chairman Darby: Can we have nominations for the position of Secretary?
Mr. Galster: Mr. Chairman I would like to nominate Mr. Richard Bauer.
Mr. Vanover seconded the nomination.
Chairman Darby: There are no further nominations; we will vote.
(With a unanimous “aye” vote from the Planning Commission members present Mr. Bauer was accepted as the City of Springdale, Planning Commission Secretary.)

Chairman Darby: We will now move to the nomination for Planning member appointment to the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Mr. Galster: Mr. Chairman, I would like to nominate Mr. Dave Okum.
Mr. Vanover seconded the nomination.
Chairman Darby: Seeing there are no further nominations; I will ask a vote.
(With a unanimous “aye” vote Mr. Okum was accepted as the Planning Commission liaison to the Board of Zoning Appeals.)

Chairman Darby: That closes the nominations. Congratulations everyone and I am sure we will have a very good team for the year.


VII. OLD BUSINESS

    No Old Business presented at this meeting.

    Mr. Galster: Mr. Chairman, due to the fact that it is a little before 7:00 p.m. and the   
    applicant is still in the lobby, do you mind if we move to Discussion, Item “A” – the    
election of Municipal Representative to the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission; prior to Mr. Okum’s departure?

Chairman Darby: Since there are no objections, let’s do so.


VIII. DISCUSSION

    Mr. Okum: In Hamilton County there is the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission. On that Commission there is one Municipal Representative representing the municipalities in Hamilton County; thirty-seven of them. That appointment is elected by the Planning Commission of each of those municipalities; there are seven townships but the townships are not voting on this position. There are three candidates running and I am one of them. I believe we have ballots here. Along with that appointment if I were to continue, I would continue as the OKI representative to the Executive Committee. On that committee I am currently serving on the Land Use Steering Committee which is a smaller group of Planners and people on the Executive Committee are very much involved in the long-term planning for land use in the entire region; it is a fairly important position and I took
    Mel Martin’s position, he had been on it for, I think fifteen years and it was a great chance to be there and bring this part of the region into the OKI. I am honored to serve in that position.

    Mr. Galster: Given Dave’s history on the Regional Planning Commission and also his position and the work that he has done with OKI, it is a true honor to make a motion that the Springdale Planning Commission hereby vote for Dave Okum to continue on as the Municipal Representative to the Regional Planning Commission.
    Ms. Boice seconded the nomination.
    Chairman Darby: Since there is no further discussion we will take a vote.
    (By unanimous “aye” vote from the Planning Commission Members present,
    Mr. Dave Okum was accepted as the City of Springdale’s candidate for the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.)

    Mr. McErlane: The next item on the agenda for discussion is there because the Planning Commission as a whole gives the Chairman the authority to sign applications that come in and are compliant with the Zoning Code. Because we have a new Chairman we need to take some action to allow Mr. Darby to do that.
   
    Mr. Galster: Usually what happens is the Chair signs off on most signage unless he thinks that it is something that Planning Commission needs to address.
    Mr. McErlane: All of the signs that are within Code are reviewed by the Chair; if the Chair has any concerns about it that he thinks need to be taken up by the Planning Commission as a whole, he can refer them to the Planning Commission. If he is satisfied with it he can sign off on it.

    Chairman Darby: Are we to assume that this list has already been considered?

    Mr. McErlane: Either by the Chair or the Acting Chair; and they have already been considered.

    Mr. Galster: I make a motion that we allow the Chair to continue to exercise his discretion on the sign approval package.
    Mr. Vanover seconded the motion.
(With a unanimous “aye” vote from the Planning Commission members, Chairman Darby was approved to sign off on signs that comply with Code.)

(Due to a prior appointment, at this time Mr. Dave Okum took leave from the Planning Commission meeting.)
   
   
IX. NEW BUSINESS

A.    Chairman Darby: We will move to our first item of New Business; First Financial – Wall Signs – 225 Pictoria Drive.

Mr. Rusty Myers: I represent the building ownership, Pictoria LLC. We really wanted to say from the ownership standpoint that there are two pieces of information that are critically important to us: One is the design, and it is critically important to us that it does blend with the building and that it look like part of the building and that it is architecturally compatible with the building. FRCH who was the design architect for the signage, we think, did a terrific job. Also, what is critically important to us as ownership is that we have one more sign available for the building and you will see that on the south fašade, on the west end still reserved one sign panel for a future tenant for this building. Over 50% of the building is not occupied by First Financial, so part of the package that we have submitted is reserving that final sign panel which we would ask be part of the package this evening.

Mr. Doug Lefferson: I am the Executive Vice-President and Chief Banking Officer for First Financial. I have brought a few people with me here tonight;
Kevin Langford who is our Chief Administrative Officer and Jeff Weingardner who is our Director of Construction and Facilities Management, we also have a partner of ours, Tim Hoskins from Triangle Sign Company. We are very excited for the opportunity to bring at least 400 jobs to Springdale and it could be more than that depending on how our growth goes. We are very excited about the facility and the community. Visibility is very important to us; the location of this site close to 275 and also accessibility is very important to us. The quality of the building, and the ownership behind that, is very critical to us as well. It is important for our bank to establish our brand. We have just started to move deeper and deeper into the Cincinnati region and some other regions; we are well known in Butler County and the brand campaign is critical to what we are doing and our strategy; the brand, the colors, the signage and those type of things. FRCH is a firm that we have worked with on our branding, including our prototype banking centers. Our new banking center, such as Maderia, will have a very prototype design; those are actually international award winning designs and that is the company that we have utilized to design the signage for this building.

Chairman Darby: I will ask Staff to go over their reports.

Mr. McErlane: Just for the applicant’s sake, the City Charter requires for any final action of Planning Commission five affirmative votes; we are one member down tonight so we want to make you aware that it will take five of the six members to approve this tonight.

(At this time Mr. McErlane and Jonathon Wocher read their Staff comments.)

Mr. Galster: A couple questions for the applicant: Typically are your corporate colors yellow and black; and is this a change to the blue and white?

Mr. Lefferson: The blue is one of our brand colors, as well.

Mr. Galster: A couple of concerns; the box mounted signs we usually try to stay away from because usually it is a box-sign that has a flat face with all the graphics on it. I am not saying that is what you are proposing here, but I would like to ask you what the intention for creating the backdrop is?

Mr. Lefferson: It is branding. It is a way to better identify our brand.

Mr. Galster: The fact that there is channel-cut letters, it still has dimension; it doesn’t have the flat appearance of the box. I am a little concerned about the need to light the blue; I’m thinking we need to go higher in order to get the larger sign in there and if we put white letters up, it will get lost once it goes above the parapet and therefore there is a need for a backdrop.

Mr. Lefferson: On the lighting, we have fluorescent lighting on the backdrop, the blue and we have LED lighting on the letters.

Mr. Galster: From the residential community directly across the interstate, I think the white light blends in. The blue light creates a little bit different ambiance in a residential area; so if that can be treated differently so that it is not anywhere near as bright as the white lights?

Mr. Lefferson: That is correct.

Mr. Galster: So that eliminates another concern of mine. I don’t have issues with the sign package; I was tempted to think about even a little bit larger letter, but I won’t go there at this time. I am o.k. with the design and the blue fabric backdrop, not considering it a box. I think it will help get better identification and will look nicer to have something behind the letters once that letter extends above the building.
Do we have anything that gives us the method of illumination and the fact that the blue is not going to be LED lights? Is that noted anywhere in your submittal?

Mr. Tim Hoskins: I am with Triangle Sign Company. The blue will be illuminated by fluorescent light.

Mr. Galster: I agree with Ms. McBride. This comment is more directed to the representative for the property owner and the future tenant’s signage: I think that the City has shown that we are willing to look at every application and evaluate it on its merit. I am not saying we are denying you the ability to put a sign up there but I don’t think that we want to put a box space up there in that location and that size, without knowing what the tenant is. I am prepared to act on the First Financial sign but I think that the future tenant sign should be brought back in at some time when you have a future tenant.

Mr. Rusty Myers: What we would ask is that we would be allowed 308 s.f. for whatever sign would be up there for a future tenant. Obviously we are happy to come back to have that sign approved at a future point and time. We need to know that we do have 308 s.f. still reserved on that south side of the building as part of the overall sign package.

Mr. Galster: All the other signs that we previously approved were 250 s.f. You want us to give you a 308 s.f. instead of the 250 s.f.?

Mr. Rusty Myers: Reason being, when we look at the entire sign package, we really like what First Financial is doing on their signs and we look at the south fašade sign that does have the blue background and that is something that is really enhancing the building. When we look at the other signs on the east and west face at 308 s.f. from a consistency and design standpoint we think it is important for those three signs to all be the same size. That is why we are requesting the 308 s.f. to be consistent with the east and the west First Financial signs.

Mr. Galster: I still have reservations about approving a sign and a size for a sign without knowing what it is we are trying to get into that sign. Can you tell me
Mr. McErlane how many square feet are actually permitted on the building?

Mr. McErlane: 318.24 s.f. total signage for the property.

Mr. Galster: We are up to 1,700 s.f.. I think the Commission has shown that it is not an issue with square footage, if in fact it is done properly. I don’t want to muddy the water by putting in a future tenant sign that we don’t have properly identified; I would like to have that removed. I think it could have a negative impact on my vote, if it is not.

Mr. McErlane: Just for a point of reference, the 308 s.f. was picked because that is the size of the east and west signs but if it were a channel letter sign and it didn’t have that background associated with it, the size that is being proposed on the east and west sides, if you just look at the channel letters is 208 s.f. Unless you know how the future sign is going to be designed you really don’t know what you are approving at this point.

Mr. Rusty Myers: We are in a little bit of a difficult situation; that remaining sign, from the ownership standpoint, is a critically important piece of this overall sign package approval. Basically our agreement with First Financial is that this whole sign package be approved; and we are approving their signs on the building subject to that final sign also being approved. First Financial takes about 110,000 s.f. out of 250,000 s.f., so from the ownership’s standpoint knowing that we have that final sign is an absolute critical component to the overall sign package approval. We would ask for a place holder at 308 s.f., to be consistent but that it is approved as part of the overall sign package approval.

Mr. Vanover: I too have reservations about this. Approving on something that we haven’t seen yet; that is out of our typical operational standards. Mr. Hoskins, on the lighting on the signs the fluorescent, are those 8 VHO-T5?

Mr. Hoskins: It will be 800 mil-lamps.

Mr. Vanover: The LED; are those self-contained packs?

Mr. Hoskins: No, they are modules. Each letter would be populated .6 volt LED white.

Mr. Vanover: Most of the LED, they are more toward that blue-white?

Mr. Hoskins: Probably, although they’ve over the last few years gotten very nice.
When we started the package with First Financial in 2006 we were using white neon. It has improved so much now that we are exclusively using white LED; it is like night and day difference. We are using a white translucent film on the face of clear poly-carbonate, so it is pretty nice white.

Mr. Galster: I have an issue with the showing on the final plan, a future sign. It is kind of like having a future building on a final plan and somehow giving approval to a future building when you don’t have any details. I can point out “Macy’s”, that came in with a sign package that had a very small sign on their building and it didn’t look right and we actually talked them into increasing the size of the sign in order to properly fit on the building. Until you know the weight of the letters, and those kind of issues, it is hard to know what size sign is appropriate; I believe 360 s.f. is what is permitted on the building and we are at 1700 s.f., I don’t think that the City has shown that they are not willing to help you get tenants that are desirable to you as well as the City. I know you may want to be in lease negotiations and say that you can offer something, but if in fact it is a major tenant that you need to get up on the sign I don’t think Planning Commission would have a problem with having a special meeting to get that approval; if in fact our once a month meeting isn’t sufficient. It is a core issue to me on putting future sign space up there, especially when we are this far over.

Mr. Rusty Myers: Back when we had our approval in December 2009, we were approved at just generic signs, total square footage of generic signs. This approval is not really anything different than we asked last December for total square footage place holder signs. At that point and time we were waiting for First Financial’s final design on their sign, which we came back with. It is really nothing different than what you have approved in the past for us. We understand 100% that you have been very cooperative and we appreciate everything that you have done; but from the ownership’s standpoint we have a 250,000 s.f. building and we need to know tonight that we have one final sign for the building for whatever other tenant we might have to fill that.

Mr. Galster: Having been here for the discussions when First Financial first came forward, I believe that this Commission was the one that actually recommended that we go to a monument sign out on the interstate and allowed more signage on the building; but we also knew who the tenant was. We had at least enough information to get at least a feel for what type of sign would be there. On the other hand, if you need to have just a place-card, I don’t have a problem but it is going to be at a very small number until I see a final design.

Ms. Boice: I don’t want to beat this particular item to death but when I was looking at my notes and the word future jumped out at me that was not something that I like to see. There is an old saying, “We never know what the future holds” and I think that Mr. Galster has made the very good points that I would have made myself and I agree with that. Approving the others are fine but until we know what that tenant would be I would have great difficulty with that.

Mr. Rusty Myers: I am in a very difficult position tonight because I am representing the building ownership and it is absolutely critically important to them that they have that future sign available. I may have to be in the position to withdraw our application if that is not part of the approved package; which is absolutely the last thing I want to do tonight.

Chairman Darby: Based on our previous approval, if no action were taken on this application what would we have on the record for the spot that is being discussed at this time?

Mr. McErlane: The last approval from April 2010 was for three 250 s.f. First Financial Signs and an existing Prexus sign at 230 s.f. to remain; I don’t believe the Prexus sign will end up remaining at this point and time.

Chairman Darby: How does that relate to what I am looking at on the drawing where it says future tenant sign?

Mr. McErlane: If Prexus were to disappear, I guess future tenant could take the place of the 230 s.f. Prexus sign; that square footage was approved by Planning Commission in April.

Chairman Darby: The point I am trying to make, is there really an issue?

Mr. Galster: Does it need to be 308 s.f.?

Mr. Rusty Myers: Yes, the 308 s.f. was to make sure that the design is consistent for the building.

Mr. Galster: But not knowing what the design of the future tenant is how are we going to do that?

Mr. Rusty Myers: Again, we are only looking for a place holder total square footage. We are not looking for approval for a sign tonight. We are fine if you say “You have to bring the final sign design back to us”; I have no trouble with that whatsoever.

Chairman Darby: At this point it is my understanding that whatever action we take regarding the future tenant spot, prior to anything going up there it comes back to this Commission; I have no problem with that.

Mr. Galster: But we are giving an approval for a certain amount of square footage tonight.

Chairman Darby: Which is in line with what is currently represented on the other signs?

Mr. McErlane: Not the current sign. The largest current sign on the building today is 230 s.f., and that is the Prexus sign. The largest sign approved to date is 250 s.f. Planning Commission in April of last year approved three 250 s.f. signs and one existing 230 s.f. sign.

Mr. Wocher: Our concern was to bring to the Planning Commission’s attention that there is a certain level of uncertainty about the future sign that you would be approving. The design of the sign has changed and it seems that the Commission is comfortable with the design that is being talked about; the backdrop with the channel-cut letters. It does sound like the applicant is looking for a place holder and I wonder if there is a middle ground; it sounds like Mr. Myers has to have 308 s.f., or is there a middle ground that the Commission can acknowledge that a building mounted sign is reserved for a future tenant. Our concern, as Staff is that we didn’t want it to be “boxed” in to commit to a box sign, a sign that has a similar design without really knowing whether that sign would be compatible or not. We support a place holder idea but you are being asked to commit to 308 s.f. and we have bumped everything up. I would ask the applicant if there is a middle ground where the Commission could act to say “Yes you have the ability for an approved building mounted sign with the area to be determined based on plans in the future”, or do you need more than that?

Mr. Rusty Myers: I think from the building standpoint; we were at 308 s.f. and we want to make sure the sign sizes are consistent. If the Commission would say a minimum 250 s.f. that we have approved today for that final sign, but then we have the ability to come back and look at what it will look like.

Chairman Darby: Mr. Galster gave a little bit of the history of this Commission in that we have actually on our own initiative increased the signage that was requested.

Mr. Rusty Myers: If we had a minimum place holder of 250 s.f., knowing that we are going to bring whatever final sign back for approval; the ownership needs to know that there is a minimum square footage that we can do based on a final design that we come back with.

Mr. Galser: At 308 s.f. that includes the backdrop which means that if somebody came in and made a sign that was as tall as the backdrop in just channel letters it would be bigger and more dominant than the First Financial sign; which I don’t think is going to look right. What if we came up with 250 s.f., where channel letters are to be used instead of a box and where the overall height of the letters cannot be any taller than the height of the letters of the First Financial sign and any modification that you want to make to that you are more than welcome to bring back in and we are still going to reserve final sign approval for that sign anyway. So, if we come up with 250 s.f. on that future sign with the understanding that it is not to be a boxed sign and it is to be channel cut letters and those channel letters will not be any taller than the First Financial sign?

Mr. Rusty Myers: I am fine with everything you said but the height. I think the height of the First Financial on the south fašade is bigger than the height on the east and west fašade. If it is consistent with the south then I think we are o.k.
Mr. Galster: Which allows it to go over the top of the building. If in fact the stipulation is that the letters shall not be any taller than the south elevation sign; that would be sufficient?

Mr. Rusty Myers: I think 250 s.f., channel letters from the south fašade of the First Financial would be fine.

Mr. McErlane: I think putting a limitation of 250 s.f. and requiring it to come back is probably adequate; it is not like we haven’t seen them come back before for something and as long as the Commission is happy with the design of it.

Mr. Galster: So I don’t need to put all of those other restrictions on there because it has to come here anyway.

Mr. Vanover: Right now we have an allotment of four signs for that building, three for First Financial and the Prexus was to remain and that currently is 230 s.f., so essentially other than if we take the size out we have given approval for four signs on that building; I can go with that.

Ms. Boice: I think we have made it pretty clear that we are open to working with you but we also have those reservations about the future sign.

Mr. Galster: I make a motion to approve the First Financial wall sign package that is submitted with the following conditions: that it incorporates drawing 10-0218 pages 4, 5, and 6, that the blue background color is to be lit by fluorescent bulbs as opposed to LED and that the future signage be limited to 250 s.f. channel letters and all final approval for that future tenant sign would need to come before Planning Commission.
Ms. Boice seconded the motion.
(With six affirmative votes (Mr. Okum not present), the request was approved with conditions.)

Mr. Doug Lefferson: I do want to say on behalf of First Financial Bank that we are very pleased to be a bigger part of the Springdale Community and we want to thank you for your support and the discussion.


X. DISCUSSION

Chairman Darby: At this time we will return to the next discussion item: Zoning Code Amendments.

Mr. McErlane: If you look up at the item in correspondence, it refers to an action that was taken by the Planning Commission last month to adopt some water quality requirements that involved revising our Water Management Sediment Control Ordinance and what was referred to as our Subdivision Regulations, which is now our Land Development Regulations. There are four references in our codified ordinances to Land Development Regulations and only three of those are in the Zoning Code; this is to clean that up so it refers to the correct ordinance. Planning Commission only needs to act on the Zoning Code Amendments. The fourth one actually falls in our Flood Control Ordinance; so I am asking Planning Commission to approve and refer to Council an amendment to the Zoning Code to accommodate these changes.

Mr. Galster: I make a motion that we make the Zoning Code amendments as suggested by Mr. McErlane and we refer them on to City Council.
Mr. Vanover seconded the motion.
(With six affirmative votes from the Planning Commission Members (Mr. Okum not present), the Commission voted to refer to City Council an amendment to the Zoning Code.





XI. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

Chairman Darby: We have already gone over the Chairman’s report, so if there are no other items for discussion I will accept a motion to adjourn.


XII. ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Vanover moved to adjourn; Mr. Galster seconded and with six “aye”
votes from the Planning Commission Members, the meeting adjourned at
7:49 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

________________________, 2011 ___________________________________
            Don Darby, Chairman


________________________, 2011 ___________________________________
                Richard Bauer, Secretary