PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
March 13, 2012
I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chairman Don Darby.
II. ROLL CALL
Members Present: Carolyn Ghantous, David Okum, Richard Bauer, Tom Vanover, Robert Diehl, Marge Boice, and Don Darby
Others Present: Anne McBride, City Planner; Don Shvegzda, City Engineer; William McErlane, Building Official
III. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF FEBRUARY 14, 2012
(Mrs. Boice moved to accept the minutes of the February 14, 2012 Planning Commission Meeting; Mr. Vanover seconded the motion and with 7 aye votes from the Planning Commission Members, the minutes were accepted.)
IV. REPORT ON COUNCIL
(Mr. Vanover reported that a Public Hearing was scheduled from the recommendation to Council concerning the extension of the special event signs / banners.)
Mr. Darby: We each received a copy of the letter to Council for the recommendation for proposed zoning code text amending the extension for the special event signs / banners.
VI. OLD BUSINESS
A. Chairman Darby: Under Old Business we have a Minor Revision to the PUD Plan, exterior elevation modification for Hobby Lobby at 11711 Princeton Pike.
I would first like to ask the Council Members if they agree that this is in fact a minor revision.
Mr. Vanover: Yes, sir.
Mr. Diehl: Yes.
Mr. John Gilhart: I am here representing Tri-County Towne Center, along with Clark Gilhart and Rick Gilhart. I have a brief Power Point demonstration.
Tri-County Towne Center was formerly Princeton Plaza Planned Unit Development and this is a minor change to the Planned Unit Development. The signage was approved for the elevation and basically, I think, there was some objection about the frontage having a box-like look, and there were some other issues regarding the rear compactor loading dock.
(At this time Mr. Clark Gilhart and Mr. John Gilhart presented their Power Point demonstration of current and proposed changes to the future Hobby Lobby location.)
(At this time Mr. McErlane, Ms. McBride and Mr. Shvegzda read their Staff comments.)
Mr. John Gilhart: I would like to follow up regarding the comments: I asked Hobby Lobby why the enclosure is 12, and I am not sure exactly how high the compactor is and I dont have a problem with going back to him and saying that whatever size the compactor is making it one foot taller. Would it be, possibly, that height is for safety or security? I dont know, but I could certainly investigate that. That back wall is approximately 35 and putting a wall that is 12 high out in front of it the same color and material, I dont know that it will visually matter, but that is your call.
Moving the stop bar; I wasnt aware of the 280 distance but what we will do is take and do the stop bar and make sure we have the site distance. When all of this construction is done, most, if not all of the major areas will have new striping and if there are any stop signs or such things as going across here possibly a yield to pedestrians, that will be addressed then.
Parking, from my calculations here in the first response; I will read what it says, Fourteen angled parking spaces were replaced by seven parallel spaces and three straight, so that is a negative of four and this is behind the Hobby Lobby. Thirteen parking spaces abutting the rear of the building would be eliminated because of the trash compactor. So, I come up with a negative of seventeen behind the building.
Mr. Bauer: On the front fašade of the Hobby Lobby, was there any consideration for softening that by evaluating putting more curtain wall in there instead of removing curtain wall?
Mr. John Gilhart: I am sure that is just a matter of their wall space and the layout of the store. They are trying to get in there as cost efficient as possible and make everybody happy and get open for business.
Mr. Bauer: The landscaping you touched on, the plan is for you to put those landscape beds in at the same time as Hobby Lobby?
Mr. John Gilhart: In conjunction, simultaneously with the construction and actually we hope there will be other tenants along there. As you may recall we have submitted color plans and that has been approved. The last time I was here I said that we didnt do it because it didnt make sense to put it in and trample it all over.
While I am in town, until Sunday I have Mr. Santoro and we are going to sit down and I am going to write the contracts out and that is going to be set in stone and we just work on the schedule; they will be implemented.
Mr. Okum: I see what Mr. Bauer is saying and if you do look at the original Hobby Lobby elevation at the other center there is a wide glass front maybe 40 or 50; so we are staying pretty close to the same. One of the things that is nice about that entry at the other site, it is like a display of decorating and it sort of gives it a character and gives it something different than just walking into a glass storefront; you do lose that with this design. One of the things that we would want to make sure of is that the window elevations remain unencumbered and are not blocked by racks or displays; that we have an open clear view into the store, I think would be very important. In regard to the graphic panels, I would want to make sure that those are not considered in anyway signage; those are not signage, those are breaks in the building elevation, the same as you would do if you would change brick patterns. In regards to the individual signs on the building, I dont have a real problem with that; I think that if we were to have individual stores for that expanse of that building, we would have that much in signage. I think the awnings do help to break that front and the vertical columns certainly do help. The landscaping that is not there is a critical element; I feel it will make a big difference to how that span of space looks. I am agreeing with Staffs recommendations completely and in addition to that I would say in regards to the wall in the back, the standard is for the wall to be one foot higher than the dumpster unit because of screening the dumpster unit, that is the minimum.
Mr. John Gilhart: I dont know if there is a maximum, but there is a minimum.
Mr. Okum: There is a minimum of one foot over.
Mr. John Gilhart: I forgot to mention that there will be some random sitting benches, that all helps to break up that big storefront.
Mr. McErlane: The code doesnt say minimum or maximum, it says, Sufficient to provide complete visual screening of the container to a height of 12 inches above the top of the containers.
Mr. Okum: Sufficient to be one foot above the dumpster container that they put on site and if they decide to increase the size of it, then they will be required to increase the size of the wall.
Mr. John Gilhart: We put a four unit dumpster enclosure, I dont remember how we determined that because we had different size dumpsters in there; what did we do for that?
Mr. Okum: I dont care if it is 15 high; does Staff have any problem with it being 15 tall?
Ms. McBride: No, what the code says is that it needs to be 12 over the enclosure. Staff was thinking that perhaps the compactor was not going to be 11 in height and so if the Commission wants to change the requirements of the code because the code is specific in saying that the enclosure would be 12 above the height the container / compactor. So, if the Commission wishes to give the applicant carte blanche with the height of the enclosure that is fine but you need to do that because the code is very specific in 12 over the height of the enclosure.
Mr. McErlane: The code reads 12 above the container; just in my own zoning opinion I think the intent was minimum; it doesnt say minimum but I think the intent was minimum. We wouldnt be having this discussion if it wasnt proposed to be 12, which is a pretty excessive enclosure.
Mr. John Gilhart: It says 12, is that o.k., as long as the trash compactor is 11 or less?
Chairman Darby: Right.
Mrs. Boice: When you were talking about the glass from the old location to the new location, I frankly am very pleased with the way it is going to be in the new location.
Mr. Bauer: The other door that is proposed at the other end, is that an egress door; is that why that door has to be there?
Mr. John Gilhart: I supplied Staff with the specifications that Hobby Lobby gave me and it looked like a flat metal door; it is probably an emergency exit.
Mr. McErlane: I cant tell you if they are glass doors or metal doors but there is a pair of them and it is likely that they are necessary for egress. Other than the entry doors, you have two exit doors in the back of the building that come down stairs and out the back doors.
Mr. Diehl: Could you show me where the benches are going to go?
Mr. John Gilhart: No. Randomly across the front; it would probably go in between the columns on the outside edge.
Mr. Diehl: Could you walk me through the parking in the back again?
(At this time Mr. Clark Gilhart demonstrated by Power Point the current parking located behind the building.)
Mr. John Gilhart: What is going to happen, I have a net loss of four. We are taking fourteen out there and we are putting seven parallel back in and three straight in, so that is a net loss of four.
Mr. Diehl: Good. Thank you.
Mr. Dave Okum: I would like to make a motion for the Tri-County Towne Center, 11711 Princeton Pike, exterior building modifications to be approved to include specifications and designs contained in the exhibits submitted and reviewed by Staff prior to this meeting. To include all Staff and City Engineer and City Planners recommendations; landscaping conditions to include those as stipulated in our City Planners considerations and suggestions; dumpster and refuse enclosures to include steel frame, wood face gates as stipulated and recommended and stated by the applicant, including the walls around the dumpster unit shall be as per Code. Parking and drive site plans conditioned to include those provided and approved by Staff. The atmospheric graphic panels shall be approved and they shall be consistent with others permitted in Springdale; the images shall be permitted with no verbiage. These images shall not impact or impair landscaping, to be placed and to be approved by Staff. The final item is, the glass front walls shall not be blocked by the backside of shelving or racks obstructing view into the business.
(Mr. Vanover seconded the motion and with a unanimous vote from the Planning Commission Members, the request for exterior building modifications at 11711 Princeton Pike were approved with conditions.)
Mr. John Gilhart: Thank you very much and the family wanted to let you know that we really appreciate you working with us and what we have done together to try to improve not only the shopping center but Springdale.
VII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Chairman Darby: We will now move on to New Business, Minor Revisions to the PUD Plan, replacement of pylon sign at Tri-County Towne Center, 11711 Princeton Pike. Again, I will ask the Council Members if this is indeed a minor revision?
Mr. Diehl: Yes.
Mr. Vanover: Yes.
Mr. John Gilhart: So, now we have a new anchor, fifty-five thousand square foot Hobby Lobby. We filled the former Pier 1 and T.J. Maxx. Now we are going to talk about a specific item that is part of our overall concept plan that we presented March / April of 2009 and many of you were here for that. I have a couple of samples of that and that has changed slightly in appearance but the general concept remains; we want to add certain signage, we want to add landscaping, outdoor and entertainment dining areas, improve the facades of the buildings to attract more tenants. Having said that, I have these two samples up here and I have seen the responses here and there is a lot of numbers you are going to see. Quite frankly some of it is even confusing to me, so what I intend to do is this: keep it brief and to the point and try to focus and stay on what we are talking about here. I ask you to remember back to our original concept plan that was approved or improved on, in that plan our goal from the beginning was certain things and I am not going to go into all of the accessory items and that is the replacement of the current pylon sign on Kemper Road and that is the one by (the former) Borders.
(At this time Mr. John Gilhart and Mr. Clark Gilhart presented a Power Point demonstration of the former sign and the proposed pylon sign.)
Mr. John Gilhart: I dont know what the setback is of this one but we would maintain the minimum setback of 10. In our overall plan, our intention is this, we want to have this proposed sign and we have a couple problems that are unique to this particular situation. This road, the elevation is much lower than the actual sign base. When you are driving east to west, you have a problem with visibility because of this being down in the hole and the long fence line. Anything that we would do, we would want to do to where people could see it both directions. The end goal of the signage package is to have three signs. We will get side tracked, Im sure, on ten signs and all of these other signs but you need to focus on three signs. That is how the whole concept plan works out; we want to have the ability to do that and we will come back later and ask you and if you want us to do it, fine and if you dont, that is fine. In the audience tonight we have representatives from Hobby Lobby, Destination XL which is a mens apparel, Salon Concepts, Fires House Subs, the food market and the book store that we are not going to talk about; these people are either here in the audience or they know we are here. We want to put a sign to replace that manual message board; it will be without the LED panel and if you want us to put some decorative panel on there in the interim that is not a problem; if nothing ever happens in the future we would like to see that sign without the LED. So then we would replace the Princeton Bowl sign that sits there on the corner by Frischs with the same thing. We are trying to do a little bit and show you good faith, we will spend a little money and we will come back trying to work in the parameters of the overall concept plan. We would come back and take the electronic message board off of the sign and we could put a decorative panel. At minimum, we would like to have a main pylon sign at Kemper, main pylon sign at Princeton and the existing pylon sign out there with the electronic; but our end game is to take that one and move it.
(At this time Mr. McErlane and Ms. McBride read their Staff comments.)
Ms. McBride: What I have heard the applicant say this evening is that there is just going to be three signs on the property so all the other signs, I dont know, are going to go away?
Mr. John Gilhart: We are going to focus on the three signs, the three main signs that we can control. We are not talking about removing anything other than what I said. We are going to replace the Kemper Road sign.
Ms. McBride: So, to keep the Commission focused, there would be ten free standing signs on this property.
Chairman Darby: Mr. Gilhart, you asked during your presentation that we focus on three signs, I know you are aware of the Citys requirements regarding signage; help me understand how we can focus on three signs when you just stated that it is not your intention to remove any.
Mr. John Gilhart: That is correct. The three signs in question are the ones that we can control. Tri-County Towne Center, those are our signs. Not to split hairs, but there are several other owners; Sprint, First Watch, Jarreds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Monroe. I believe that they are entitled as an out parcel to a pole sign up to 25 high and not to exceed 50s.f.; I believe that is in the code. I believe that they could come in and fill out a form and get a permit. Would that be a fair assessment?
Mr. McErlane: No. It is per development area. Development area is defined as an area that is developed uniformly as a shopping center in this particular case.
Mr. John Gilhart: I am pointing out what I think is a double standard here and possibly a misrepresentation; if I may ask Staff, how many signs are on the Cassinelli Property development?
Mr. McErlane: Three.
(At this time Mr. Gilhart distributed to the Planning Commission members a photo showing signage on the southeast corner of East Kemper and Princeton.)
Mr. John Gilhart: Tell me again how many signs are in the Cassinelli Square?
Mr. McErlane: The large Cassinelli signs, there are two of those and one TGI Friday sign.
Mr. John Gilhart: What about the Longhorn sign and the Vitamin Shoppe?
Mr. McErlane: The Longhorn may still be there, I dont know if it was torn down with the building or not. The Vitamin Shoppe is not on the Cassinelli property.
Mr. John Gilhart: Nine of the ten signs are there.
Mr. McErlane: It is not even the same ownership. It is not zoned the same.
Mr. John Gilhart: My point is this; we could split hairs. It works differently on one side but not on the other side.
Mr. McErlane: Are all of your properties Charles Gilhart?
Mr. John Gilhart: Negative. No. Do we have three or do we have ten? Does Cassinelli have three or do they have ten?
Mr. McErlane: Cassinelli has four, if the Longhorn Steakhouse is there. Those other signs are not the same ownership or the same property.
Mr. John Gilhart: Again, I am not going to split hairs but you cant treat one so called development, and you can call it individual lots or development, but you can not treat an entire shopping center corner, you can say they have three when clearly there is ten.
Mr. McErlane: They are not the same zoning districts; they are totally different zoning districts owned by different people, developed differently.
Mr. John Gilhart: I dont accept that answer. I say to you clearly there are ten signs on that corner and to me that is Cassinelli Square. We dont have ten; that is my point, you cant have it both ways. Jarreds is owned by another individual. Kentucky Fried Chicken is owned by another individual and Monroe is the same way and Frischs is the same way, Sprint is the same way. What you are doing is misrepresenting to the Planning Commission what is there; because by your own definition you said they are separate owners.
Ms. McBride: The Thompson Thrift development on the corner, that you have included in the Cassinelli Square, is under separate ownership, it is a separate parcel, it is separate zoning. This Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals had to grant a number of variances to allow that development to occur because it is a stand alone parcel. It stands alone in terms of setbacks, parking and signage. I dont think the Kentucky Fried Chicken parcel stands alone and I dont believe it has sufficient parking, I dont believe it meets setbacks and I dont believe you obtained any of the necessary variances.
Mr. John Gilhart: It does stand alone. That is a fact; period.
Ms. McBride: I am using the Thompson Thrift project as an example because that is the difference. There are separate parcels, separate developments. Yours is treated as a unified development because it shares access and it shares parking, cross parking easements, cross access easements and that is why it is treated as one unified development.
Mr. John Gilhart: Call it what you want, if I ask anybody in this audience to go over there, they are going to say that Cassinelli is a unified development whether it is separate owners or not. They are going to go over to Tri-County Towne Center and they are not even going to know whether Value City is included or not. That is why I am trying to stay focused. If you want to treat it that way, lets treat it that way.
Mr. Okum: Since I am probably considered a Senior person here and I have been here forever, I have been involved in pretty much every one of the discussion items that is on the agenda, including the Monroe property that came through the Board of Zoning Appeals and was granted as variance to be placed closer to the right of way than permitted by Code. How many square feet of signage do we have in this development, your three signs?
Mr. John Gilhart: Proposed 461s.f., and that would include the LED message board. The bottom line is, at the end of the day our three signs for the main part of the shopping center that we can control at the end of the day would be 461s.f. on Kemper with the electronic message board; 461s.f. on Princeton Pike and 359s.f. out in the corner, minus 98s.f. and I believe that comes up to 1,183s.f. The remaining signs are 432s.f.
Mr. Okum: Earlier this evening you talked about changing the Princeton Bowling Alley sign; so those are part of your development, is that right?
Mr. John Gilhart: The one message board at Borders would be replaced; the one on Kemper would replace the Princeton Bowl sign.
Mr. Okum: Is the Princeton Bowling Alley signs part of your development; did you not state to us in your presentation that those are part of your development; that you wanted to be able to change those signs out?
Mr. John Gilhart: Not both signs, no.
Mr. Okum: If they are part of your development, then they are part of your development.
Mr. John Gilhart: 1,183s.f. is not where we are at, that is where we propose to be; total for the three signs and 432s.f. for the remaining signs.
Mr. Okum: So, you are at 1,183s.f. for 21.5 acres and Stone Creek (Colerain Township) which is a successful center has signage of 600s.f.
Mr. John Gilhart: Lets look at Tri-County Mall, they have two signs I believe.
Mr. Okum: Should we permit signs for every business in Tri-County Mall?
Mr. John Gilhart: That is a whole different animal. The draw and the attraction is to come to the mall. It would be absurd to have 300 signs. However, having said that we have Miracle Ear coming from the mall to our place looking at it so there are several people like that who want to be in the plazas.
Mr. Okum: There is a change in demographics and there is also a change in shopping habits. By allowing the elevated pylon sign that you want to build with the future location for the digital sign gives me the indication that the need for the information board is necessary in the future. You are saying tonight that possibly you are hoping to move the information sign over from the other location. Personally, as a shopper, I think that is a big mistake because I think it makes a big impact where it is at. I think it would make very little impact there.
Mr. John Gilhart: We would not move it unless we were to do two. We would move one over.
Mr. Okum: So, you are thinking two?
Mr. John Gilhart: Yes.
Mr. Okum: Then we are moving two, we would add one.
Mr. John Gilhart: We would build this without the message board.
Mr. Okum: You are still building for it. If I were making a decision on what is potentially future signage by what is illustrated there, I am making the assumption that what is not there is ultimately destined to be signage and we should actually consider that into it or bring the sign down the 12.
Mr. John Gilhart: It wouldnt do any good anyway because as I explained earlier we have a minimum height that we have to maintain for visibility.
Mr. Okum: That is totally incorrect. If I can see the sign on the bottom row, I can certainly see the sign on the top row.
Mr. John Gilhart: I see what you are saying. We could build the sign and eliminate the future, potential possible. The only reason it is there is so that we can take it from the other one and move it over to retrofit it.
Mr. Okum: I am confused because you just told me you would have one on 747 and this one; am I incorrect?
Mr. John Gilhart: Yes. We have a sign that is existing that is an electronic message board, we are proposing tonight to replace this manual message board sign with the sign that I proposed without the LED. If we walk out of here tonight we would build that sign without the LED, then as we get more tenants and we make more money and redevelop and do more things, we come back in the future and we are now ready to come back and we want to eliminate the Princeton Bowl sign. The Princeton Bowl sign is a separate property owner; we have to enter into a negotiation where we would actually include their name on there. All you would need to know is the Princeton Bowl sign would be gone. When we come to you and say we want to build that one and the message board and if you allow us to do that then we are going to take, at the same time, this message board and put it over here. We either want one sign in the corner with the message board, as is, plus the proposed new sign, and another one over on the road.
Mr. Okum: The end game is 1,183s.f., plus whatever happens with the Princeton Bowl sign.
Mr. Bauer: The last time you came before us in regards to signage, was the smaller Pylon sign up near Jarreds with the individual fixed panels. My concern at that point and my concern now is I dont have a plan that we have approved that we are looking at. I feel like each time you are coming here with pieces for our approval. I am not comfortable going past where we are at now until I have a plan to look at what you are trying to do at this Center. Now I am confused on what is your Center. Until I have a plan, my issue is that I cant look at your sign that you are proposing tonight because I dont know what you are planning to do with the rest of your signs and I do have an issue with the number of signs that are on that property.
Mr. Diehl: In todays environment we have moved from a mall concept to destination stores. You do have a disadvantage in the fact that when you are below ground level visibility is an issue. I can feel for what you are trying to do and I like what you are trying to do. On the original first sign that you are going to put in; how far is it from the ground level to Kemper?
Mr. John Gilhart: I have no idea. We could get that information. Getting back to what Mr. Bauer said; we have an overall general concept plan. We do not have an exact plan. It is a fifty year old center, we are kind of winging it as we go and we are working with you to try to do that. You give us this and we give a little bit of that. We are going to be back here probably another twenty times in the next two to three years and each time we come back you do have an opportunity to say, Is there a sacrificial sign or something that you can give up?. That is a possibility. For this particular sign, what I can do is guarantee you today that we will remove that old fashioned message board and replace it with a first class sign. Signs get a bad rap and what we try to do is make it more of an architectural element and gradually theme the shopping center. Apparently, a few other people do to.
(At this time Mr. John Gilhart demonstrated an image showing that the Tri-County Towne Center won second place in the International Trade Magazine 2012 International Sign Contest.)
We are proud to tell you that internationally, in the sign competition, we came in second. We are committed to redeveloping the place. If I could get away with the businesses being successful without signage, I am not going to spend $225,000. or $125.000. We dont have a plan, we have a concept plan. We dont have an exact plan because it changes. We had a plan on the landscape islands and that was before Hobby Lobby came in and we are going to go through with them but we have to adjust some entry points. There are going to be things throughout the process that will have to be modified slightly. You have every opportunity every single time to say you dont like it. I cant control something that I dont own.
Chairman Darby: One of the benefits of having a plan is that it allows the applicant to ask the permission versus trying to get forgiveness on what is submitted. I agree with Mr. Bauer; you have come to us and you say you will come to us twenty more times and that is great, but every time you come you are asking for additional signage and you talk about give and take but you are never giving anything.
Mrs. Boice: When you were presenting the sign and there was the mention of the bowling alley and all this down the road might change; right now you want this sign and everything else is going to stay the same. Are the drawings to scale (referring to picture boards brought to the meeting for demonstration)?
Mr. John Gilhart: I dont know that it is to scale, I dont believe so.
Mrs. Boice: I am looking at that picture and it looks like a monument, if that is not to scale, then I dont think I would present those drawings. As you can see, it is overshadowing the development. It is a big sign and there is so much signage on that property, I have to be honest that I have very mixed feelings about this.
Mr. John Gilhart: We came in here with a plan and we had a site plan and we had signs. Was it perfect? No. If you recall, you came to us and said, Tell us when you are going to implement it. We said to you at the time we cant give you a schedule. We can give you a general concept and as we get tenants it will modify a little bit. I think we have given quite a bit. We have $365,000. just to bring Hobby Lobby to the shopping center. If you recall, the City had a grandiose plan, an eighty or ninety page plan; my brother Rick made a presentation and the simple point is this, you have the plan and you havent implemented this. Some people were upset about that. You, as a City, have an overall plan and you cant even implement your own plan. How do you expect us as a single, individual business owner to do that same thing? I knew we were going to get sidetracked with the square footage and signs and heights and so on and so forth, especially because of the grade of the property.
Mayor Webster: I greatly respect the autonomy of this Board and all of the other Boards and Commissions in this City. The few times that I have addressed this Commission it has been usually in support of a resident, but not necessarily in support of a business. I want to say that I totally100% support the comments of the Staff and I think our Staff does an excellent job and this Commission would have a hard time functioning if not for the efforts of this Staff. For full disclosure,
Derrick Parham, Mr. Tulloch and myself met with the Gilhart family this afternoon for a couple of hours just to see if we could come to some agreement on the signage, that we could suggest something to them that they could bring to this Commission tonight to make this thing go better. According to Staff reports, it is pretty evident that it was not going to go well. Last year the City of Springdale experienced about a $230,000. shortfall on property taxes. Of that $230,000., $160,000. was appeals from businesses; they went before the Hamilton County Appeals Court. A number of the restaurant sites have been sitting vacant for a few years. Last week, Jeff and myself and Derrick met with another property owner in
Springdale and they shared with us that a few years ago they leased the same retail space for $18.00 a square foot, December the 29th of this past year they signed a lease for the same space at $9.00 a square foot; and they were ecstatic to get the tenant and the contract. These guys have the same problem. As far as the mall, you cant advertise outside that you are inside; everyone knows we have a Dillards and a Sears and a BJs and a Macys, no wonder the mall has vacancies. As John pointed out some of those people are coming across the street to get out of the mall and get the exposure. Am I going to say that they dont have more signage than anybody else on the block? Absolutely not. I would ask you to look at a couple things; first we can get tied up in the ownership thing but I ask you to stand back and forget ownership and look at the total development on that corner, the old Cassinelli Nursery. Maybe it is under six, eight or ten different ownerships but compare that and the total signage theyve got with what is cattycornered across the street that these guys have. Take into consideration that these guys are down in a hole and that is why they need a sign that is 49, which is really only 42 when you look at grade level. If you want to compare to Stone Creek, a great looking development; you can see it from 275, but you dont see any of their (Tri-County Towne Center) merchants from 275. Look at the evolution that these guys have gone through; this started off as a development all in a GB district and we benefited and they benefited from converting that to a Planned Unit Development. If not, we would need about 3,000 parking spots over there and wouldnt that look nice. Somewhere along the way we converted from a GB to a PUD and I think we have all benefited from that, but now lets not turn around and penalize these guys from the signage. I am not saying that they need every inch of sign that theyve got, like I said I am not going to stand here and try to defend that, but I think there is some valid points in the way this whole process evolves. If we cant resolve this tonight, I would like to see, rather than you guys taking a vote and totally denying their request, maybe refer to a workshop or something. Appoint a couple members of your committee with maybe the Staff and the Gilhart family to see if they cant work out, sit down and exchange some ideas, and work out something that is acceptable to all parties. Short of that I would say that the Administration strongly supports the approval of this project. I am happy to see a store like Hobby Lobby want to stay in Springdale. As all of you know, I just ran for re-election and knocked on every door in the City and the number one item on everyones shopping list is, When in the hell are we going to get a grocery store in this City?. We now have a potential for someone to come in with a grocery store, but they are not going to come in unless they see their name on a sign. We strongly support the approval of this but if you dont feel like doing that then I would suggest, rather than deny it, please send it to a working committee to try to get it resolved. Thank you very much for your attention.
Chairman Darby: Thank you, Mayor. I would like to say to the applicants that I live here in Springdale and I realize the value of occupancy and it is certainly not my intention to perform in such a way that we are going to hurt the City of Springdale, however we sit here and the only way we can be effective in the long run is to operate with a published list of policies, procedures, and guidelines that provide for some degree of similarity along the way. I realize that we are dealing with a PUD here where we can make some exceptions which we have done in the past and we will continue to do so. I am not in a position this evening to vote positively on this submission because I think some things need to be done. One of those things is I would like for you as the applicants to submit to the Administration as detailed, as possible, plan for your signage package when you get full occupancy. It can be the pie in the sky; and when you do that maybe that will provide for some give and take. Secondly, if the members of this Commission are in agreement, I am going to ask you to table. When we get down to discussion with the other members, I am going to ask that we have a discussion about how we should proceed following the advice of the Mayor to come to some agreement as how we might look at this. I welcome other members to comment.
Mrs. Ghantous: Why do we have a limit of 25 of the height of the signs?
Ms. McBride: Because all zoning codes set a maximum height limit for signs and 25 was the limit for the height of signs that the zoning code committee that wrote the code determined was appropriate.
Mrs. Ghantous: To achieve a certain appearance? Is it just for aesthetics?
Ms. McBride: Largely, and to make sure that signs dont start to cancel themselves out. The tendency in signs is lower signs, ground mounted signs, as opposed to big pylon signs.
Mrs. Ghantous: I see this sign as the next logical step. I guess I am in the minority but I think it would look great and if people are opposed to another LED then just say no to another LED when that comes up for discussion.
Mr. Diehl: I would tell you that I am generally in favor of this because we are not here tonight to talk about a master plan, but we are here to talk about one sign and I think your presentation on that one sign makes a lot of sense. If it comes to a vote then I am going to vote in favor of that. I echo some of the statement that the Mayor made and I hope that everybody takes those in consideration.
Mr. Okum: Mr. Diehl, this is a modification to the approved plan and being that we have to take into consideration the entire PUD, it would be no different than if we would add another building on the site or we would impose limits on parking by building another building on the site. In essence, I dont have a major objection to an entry feature sign at this location. What I have an objection to is to an entry feature sign there, the digital information and marketing sign that is in the middle and we have the Princeton entry at Frances which is another main entry. Long range, shifting and elimination of signs for the PUD would be an appropriate way to deal with that but to just look at this in a postage stamp approach is probably the wrong thing for us to do. I serve on the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission and I serve on a number of committees and comments come up quite frequently about signage among communities and the thing that communities are concerned with is sign blight. Mr. Gilhart, I do want to compliment you on your sign receiving that award; it did earn it and it is entitled to that recognition and I want to compliment you and your family on that. I certainly understand your position on this sign, that it might as well be underground. With that being said, if I were to vote on this sign tonight, based upon our sign total for your site I would not support your sign. I would support a repositioning and a reallocation of signage on your site along with the construction of this sign over a master plan of signage for the site and that master plan of signage would include Frischs, Jarreds, everyone of the signs on the site, Princeton Bowl; all of those that we find as part of the PUD. I didnt assemble the PUD but as many years as we have talked about this PUD I have never heard anything said that they are not part of this PUD. That is a surprise to me.
Mr. John Gilhart: That is not what we are saying; we are saying that they are, but they are different owners.
Mr. Okum: If they are then we have to take them into consideration as part of the PUD. The overall signage package; Frischs lease is coming up next year or this year and they are in a position where they are going to be talking about their plans so I would think that is probably something that would be considered. Jarreds; didnt take down the pole and the pole was there and that was a permitted sign placement for that sign and there was no choice on that sign. You did give up one sign on your site, the sign that was behind the Eyemart location and you shifted the other sign down; so there has been some give on signage on this site. I am asking that in order for me to consider, I want to see the site line view of that sign coming westbound on Kemper Road and every time I see that sign I see it eastbound; I want to see site lines on that sign for observing how it is going to look at the height that you are proposing; whether it be with that information board in it or not. If the end game is that this is going to be the marquee location as it was on your submittal on your preliminary plan then that marquee location needs to be tied to the other marquee location at Frances Lane. If Frances Lane is not going to be marquee location then we need to air that so that we understand.
Mr. John Gilhart: I dont have a problem and I would love to have a preliminary plan. There are some things that I dont know what is going to happen, because of the site and the age of it; for example, the KFC sign is going to go.
Mr. Okum: We saw a plan for KFC eight years ago.
Mr. John Gilhart: But some of these things I am not going to know, for example KFC and Monroe, I am not going to know what is going to happen to them. The things that I do know is this message board, we do know that we would prefer to have Princeton Bowl eliminate their sign and take a panel and be part of our sign. We would be eliminating another sign and a manual message board and hopefully going to an electronic message board. I will do the best I can but I cannot foresee the future because every lease is different and every property owner is different and I wasnt arguing that it wasnt an overall plan, I am arguing that it is.
Mr. Okum: This is something that you see and is consistent along all of Hamilton County, the division of parcels generates the opportunity for individual signage and those isolated parcels get signs. Then you end up with sign blight. What you have done is not sign blight. I would see if the Monroe site and the KFC site, if you had in your plan that at the time of that use, as that particular business expires, those signs would become part of the overall development; then that is long range planning for the PUD.
Mr. John Gilhart: We would hope that would be the case.
Mr. Okum: In regards to this sign, by keeping it at the height that you wanted for the future location, we are going to need to see the other sign on the plan being relocated to the other entrance. The proximity of that is crucial to me to consider it at all. That is where I am at right now. I cant support it. Ideally, I think it is a little too high and I think it is a little bit too much information. When you turn the corner you are going to be looking up at the sign because of its height and I think when you look at it from that corner from a vehicle there is going to be a view and the concept that we talked about earlier is a straight line of vision, that is where the value placement is on a sign. Hobby Lobby is saying that they want to be at the top of the sign on the one that is on 747, and that is a valid point; Hobby Lobbys placement on this sign, I dont know.
Mr. John Gilhart: That is their mandatory thing that is in their lease agreement. I am showing this because it gives you an idea of the height of the sign. If you look the other way what you are going to see is the proposed message board, you are going to see the bottom of that message board and up. When we do this we are going to bring it back, that bottom of the message board is all you are going to see and you will see nothing below that coming from the other direction.
Mr. Bauer: I go back to wanting a plan for that signage, to be able to make a fair assessment where we are going from here with signs. There is nobody more excited than me to see what the possibility is of what is coming in there. Every time I drive by your place my wife is asking me where the bookstore is in Springdale; seeing the possibility of tenants, like that, excites me. I would like to have a plan to be able to look at where we are going with signage for that PUD.
Mr. Vanover: The gals can probably relate to this; my grandmother was a quilter and you make a quilt one piece at a time, but there is a pattern that they follow, there is a master plan. I will be happy to do a work session; we did this once before and thought we had an agreement; we came back in and it was gone.
Mr. John Gilhart: I dont remember what that was. I know it was you and
Mr. Vanover: That is the point; it is not that we are not willing to work because we are, but it doesnt do a whole lot of good expending energy and you walk out of the room with the understanding that we have an agreement and we walk into another meeting and that agreement is gone. That is very frustrating to me and irritating. We can focus on the three signs but at times I think I am sitting out and watching David Copperfield, and he is doing things with his right hand but the magic is with the left hand. We can focus on these three signs but these other signs are not going to disappear, not unless you are a heck of an illusionist or a magician. As this stands right now I cannot support it.
Mr. John Gilhart: That is great; now we know what you want and we can come back and give that to you. The thing that you are asking for, way back when, we showed the same sign or similar to that, replacing the Princeton Bowl sign and we showed one out in the corner. Now, that has probably been a year and a half or two or two and a half years ago. We will do it again. I understand exactly. All we can do is present this and you can say you dont like it but we need you to tell us what you are looking for.
Mr. Vanover: I remember when the preliminary plan came in and we were all excited; it was a phenomenal looking development, there was a walkway down the middle, the clock tower and all that, but now it is like this tenant comes in and says it doesnt work for them but if the plan is there and when they come in and look at the center, it is there. When I buy a house and it is brick and I really like wood siding, then I either walk away from that house or I change it.
Mr. John Gilhart: We had the plan; we just didnt have the three to five million dollars and that was the bottom line.
Chairman Darby: I think that we have had quite a range on expressions here. So, what is your position at this time? I think you sense that there is a strong desire for us to work with you.
Mr. John Gilhart: I would suggest that we table it. I would ask that we go to some type of workshop format. I know what you are looking for; the view and a detailed plan of what we can give you to the best of our ability. The only thing that I ask is that someway we dont drag our feet. I dont know exactly what that means but we will expedite that because the reality is May 1st we start demolition on those two stores. We have already started demolition of Fire House Subs.
Chairman Darby: I think that you can be assured that when the Mayor gets involved things move fast, so this will be expedited and also I have been reminded that the model is already in existence for this work session. It is my understanding that we would need to be represented by the Council persons; that was the point made the last time we did this.
Mr. John Gilhart: Previously two member of the Council were also on the Planning Commission.
Mr. Okum: The issue was that the Law Director would say that an elected official being and elected official could certainly meet with any business owner or any resident at any time. On the other hand, we as just Planning Commission Members, we dont carry that same responsibility and commitment to the community so it would be more appropriate that it would be the Council representatives and possibly the Chairman who is obviously there. I am not a Lawyer but I understand there are certain reasons that we should not be there.
Mr. John Gilhart: Are you prepared tonight to appoint two people?
Mr. Okum: The last meeting was Mr. Galster and Mr. Vanover.
Mrs. Boice: When you are coming to the point of putting people on this special group that is going to meet, I think we need people on both sides, so that you get good feed in.
Chairman Darby: From what I heard, you have got that. Who will represent the Administration?
Mr. McErlane: The last work session was definitely me and it may have been
Mr. Okum: For purposes of closing on this one issue, I move to table.
(Mr. Vanover seconded the motion and with a unanimous affirmative vote from all of the Planning Commission Members the item was tabled until the April 2012 meeting.)
Mr. John Gilhart: Can we do this in a timely manner so if there is anything that has to go to Staff we can get it submitted and be here next month?
Chairman Darby: Mr. McErlane, you will coordinate the work session, I assume?
Mr. McErlane: I think it is going to be up to the schedules of the two Council Members.
Mr. John Gilhart: Will we be required to any certain deadline, other than just meet and get a general plan and come back next month.
Mr. McErlane: There would definitely be a deadline to submit for the next months meeting so that the Planning Commission and Staff knows what you are presenting.
Mr. John Gilhart: When is that?
Mr. McErlane: Typically we get an application a month in advance. We provide you with preliminary comments and then have you re-submit. The next Planning Commission Meeting is April 10th, 2012; we would expect you to have something to us by March 30th.
Mr. John Gilhart: So, we have to meet and decide what we are going to do and get everything to Staff by March 30th?
Mr. McErlane: Right.
IX. CHAIRMANS REPORT
Chairman Darby: As you can see from the agenda there were a couple signs approved.
Mr. Okum moved to adjourn; Mr. Vanover seconded and with seven affirmative
votes from the Planning Commission Members, the meeting adjourned at
Chairman Darby: The next meeting will be April 10, 2012.
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Don Darby, Chairman
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Richard Bauer, Secretary