PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
JULY 14, 2009
7:00 P.M.


I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chairman Tony Butrum.

II. ROLL CALL

Members Present: Richard Bauer, Tony Butrum, David Okum, Carolyn Ghantous, Lawrence Hawkins III, Steve Galster and Tom Vanover

Others Present: Don Shvegzda, City Engineer; Anne McBride, City Planner;
William McErlane, Building Official; Jeff Tulloch, Economic Development Director for the City of Springdale; Cecil Osborn, City Administrator;
and Mayor Doyle Webster

III. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF April 14, 2009

Mr. Okum moved to adopt the April 14, 2009 Planning Commission Meeting Minutes, Mr.Vanover seconded the motion and the Minutes were adopted with
6 affirmative votes and Mr. Galster abstaining.

IV. REPORT ON COUNCIL

No report presented for Council.

V. OLD BUSINESS

No Old Business presented at this meeting.

VI. NEW BUSINESS

Chairman Butrum: There is one item for New Business; the Concept Plan for Princeton Plaza Shopping Center Redevelopment at 11711 Princeton Pike.

Mr. John Gilhart: I am here on behalf of the Princeton Plaza Shopping Center; my nephew behind me is Clark Gilhart and my brother Rick Gilhart is here. Also with us is Louis Santoro. Robert Gilhart could not make it tonight because his daughter had a baby boy today.
Tonight we are bringing to you our concept plan for renovation of the Princeton Plaza Shopping Center; we have a PowerPoint presentation and some renderings on foam board. We want to go over some ideas from our tenants and people wanting to come into the area; these are items that we think will enhance the Shopping Center. We met with Mayor Webster, Cecil Osborn and Jeff Tulloch about three months ago and I did see the revitalization plan for Springdale; we want to be part of that. Since we are an already existing Shopping Center there are a lot of things we have problems with: parking, ingress, egress and signage. We asked if there was some flexibility to work with, and they said “bring us a plan”; we are bringing to you tonight a concept plan. GBBN Architects provided the architectural renderings for the presentation.
(At this time Mr. John Gilhart and Clark Gilhart presented the PowerPoint Renovation Concept Plan as outlined in the handout).

(Following the Concept Plan presentation, Mr. William McErlane, Anne McBride and Don Shvegzda read their staff comments.)

Chairman Butrum: We will open the floor to questions or discussions.

Mr. Lawrence Hawkins: What is your estimation on the time it will take to go through this full development; and another question, is it going to be in phases or are you going to do it all at once?
Mr. John Gilhart: It will depend on how successful we are in attracting tenants and that will accelerate the process; but in general we would think three years.

Mr. Louis Santoro: Three years. We have just started talking to contractors about how to accomplish some of this and not disrupt the business of our current tenants.

Mr. John Gilhart: What phase are we going to start on? Whatever gives us the most bang for the buck. Tonight, we are looking for feedback from you. This is a joint venture for us and the City. We are here to work together to do the best we can and start the revitalization project, and we want to be the first one. We cannot take a
1961 shopping center and with all the new codes make it work; if there is a way we can work together, we can do it.

Mr. Louis Santoro: I think the last phase basically is the Princeton Road entryway and that depends on how well our neighbors and I and the Plaza cooperate. And the plans for the City to actually go ahead with the Northland extension; that area, we don’t want to do anything to that area until we have a firm idea of the City’s plan and how quick they will progress with something like the Northland extension and obviously that requires cooperation with Kasto property.

Mr. John Gilhart: I think it is obvious to say we have interest regardless in connectivity; I think it is in all of our best interest, I just think we need to approach it slowly and do it right and everybody benefits from it; regardless of whether there is a connector road or not. I can envision that looking as one big development just like Tri-County Mall. It would be our intentions to keep every business open and phase it in as we can; I don’t know if that is possible.

Mr. Louis Santoro: I think the pool of funds is being created for the parking lot and the extension of the sidewalks so that the sidewalk immediately in front, the eating area, would be one of the last things we could accomplish because we have to coordinate that with the entire change over. We could keep the entryway in front of the store open and do the pouring at night.

Mr. John Gilhart: The thing about the outdoor area, the climate doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that but for maybe the six months amount of time that we have here, certainly it would be nice for the dining and year round it is still aesthetically attractive.

Mr. Hawkins: I love the concept and I think it will draw in a lot of businesses as well as patrons for the businesses. I like how the parking lot has been broken up and the green space; it looks very attractive and progressive. It will be great for the City.
Are you looking to do any change in the elevation toward the south where Borders used to be?

Mr. John Gilhart: Changing that elevation and the grade and the ratio; no.

Mr. Galster: If you had this in for a final plan approval tonight, I would say let’s go ahead and let’s do it. The problem that I foresee is not knowing how it will be staged. If signs are the first phase and then nothing else happens, then those are the kind of issues that are more of a concern to me. The process to get from point “A” to point “B” will be a major issue. I am personally more in favor of video display boards than just LED red letters flashing at me as I am driving down the street.

Mr. John Gilhart: By the way, that is what we are talking about, a more modern sign.

Mr. Galster: The one thing I don’t like about the Plaza right now is when I come across the front isle I think there are eight stop signs. I would like to see some of that traffic away from the front of the stores so that there is not a need for eight stop signs.

Mr. John Gilhart: Did you notice the signs are gone? When I came into town that is the first thing we did. What we would like to do is add ten foot and landscaping, pull the parking out and that will create that safety factor; there are several different configurations that we have looked at.

Mr. Galster: I am concerned with the first sign at the entrance across from Tri-County and then at the entrance by Jared’s, those two video display boards would be pretty close together there; that may be overdone.
Otherwise I am excited about the project and the prospect for the revitalization.
I am concerned about the timing and the phasing; there has to be a pretty good understanding of how that phasing is going to happen.

Mr. John Gilhart: That is why we are here, we want you to say that you are with us on this plan and that you would want us to come back with all the details.

Mr. Galster: We want some guarantee that you are going to do this, this and this or nothing at all.

Mr. Okum: I too am very, very pleased.
The Skeffington’s corner is way too tight for your main entry. Your neighbor’s mall is hurting too; now is the time for both parties to come together with a combined effort to get the connectivity in place.
I think that giving the Office Depot Building a front fašade is really critical; I have heard extreme comments for years about the back end of that building.

Mr. John Gilhart: We would certainly address that.

Mr. Okum: Three video display signs for this site, I think is extreme; possibly two I would lean more comfortably to. The monument signs on the drawings are too large; they don’t need to be that big. The tower effect, I think would really set off the site and I am not opposed to banners on the tower if they are kept nice. I think you are showing a lot of very positive things here.
Like Mr. Galster, I want to see a phasing time table a commitment from the developer of “this is when we are going to get to this point”, not just when a space is rented. We do not want to see that beautiful tan fašade on one space and the white box next to it.

Mr. Vanover: I am also very excited about this, I think this would be a great opportunity to jump start the revitalization plan. I am interested in the phasing; I like what I see in your plan.

Mr. Bauer: I am really excited about what you have shown us here today. My biggest concerns are going into that center, the traffic and going in and out near the corner by Skeffington’s, how tight that is. As far as the clock tower, have you looked at other types of monuments?

Mr. John Gilhart: The architect did show us several different architectural elements; there are so many different things we could put there. We do not know the height, the shape, whether it is going to be a clock tower or not.

Chairman Butrum: I agree on the timeline that Mr. Galster brought up and others have mentioned. I think what we want to avoid is a case where we don’t have any timeline for completion of at least some of the key elements.

Mr. John Gilhart: You want some reasonable parameters.

Chairman Butrum: In terms of the digital signs, I agree with Mr. Galster, as well, we do not want that sort of monochromatic lone resolution Walgreen’s type sign so I am glad you are looking at full-colored digital signs. I like what you presented here. I like the idea of the clock tower and I am open to other ideas as well but I think something that adds substantial height, especially in that location given the elevation and the dip down into that parking field.

Mr. Rick Gilhart: I have provided a 10 page handout giving a description on the banners, the material it is made out of and the type of brackets; it shows a typical generic banner. The height it will be mounted is determined by the banner company.
(At this time Mr. Rick Gilhart presented three banners for demonstration of material, size and design.) We are just trying to get these up, get some color and add some color to the shopping center.

Mr. Galster: I believe it is twelve poles that you want to put these on, is that correct; and they will be properly maintained with generic messages?

Mr. Rick Gilhart: Correct.

Mr. Galster: I make a motion for approval of the banners on twelve existing light poles with the maximum dimension of 30” X 80” providing that they are properly maintained and have generic messages, and if they are seasonal they must be changed seasonally.
Mr. Vanover: I second the motion.

Mr. Hawkins polled the Planning Commission Members and with a unanimous 7-0 vote the 30” X 80” banners for 12 existing light poles were approved for the Princeton Plaza Shopping Center at 11711 Princeton Pike.

Mr. Galster: Any idea when you might be back again?

Mr. John Gilhart: I am coming back personally; I live south so I come back about once every month.

Mr. Galster: So, something like the next couple months we would probably see you back here with a preliminary plan approval?

Mr. John Gilhart: We don’t want to come in here premature and waste your time; all of this stuff will move forward even if we don’t come back here right away.
We have also sent out a packet similar to the ones you have to each corporate.

VII. DISCUSSION

Chairman Butrum: There is one item for discussion; I asked this to be put on here, to look at the digital message signs. Are we being needlessly restrictive with the use of digital signs especially with a large development such as the Princeton Plaza? We may need to look at this as far as expanding it or putting parameters around it; if everyone agrees maybe we should form a subcommittee.

Mr. Galster: I understand where you are coming from, but I think what we have in place right now is working. If applicants similar to what we have here in a PUD and a big development come forward I think that this Board will be flexible in allowing those where we deem them to be appropriate. What I don’t want to see is a lot of those monochrome message centers and those types of things. I think, having it in our code that we will allow it in certain circumstances; and I think we modified it for PUD’s facing the interstate not just the shopping centers, I think that was good inclusion.

Chairman Butrum: I agree. We could still limit it to PUD.

Mr. Galster: Until we have a couple of them out there, or requests for them I don’t know that we need to modify the code because the code is going to allow us to make exceptions.

Chairman Butrum: I don’t think anyone here wants the monochromatic low-resolution; that doesn’t look good at all.

Mr. Galster: Even if it means that we have to hear a couple and turn down a couple I would rather have that than opening it up to where we have 20 or 30 of them in the City.

Mr. Okum: I tend to agree with you, Mr. Galster. The only thing, is I think when we were thinking the pitch and the amount of light we were basing it on aerial and distance from the expressway; we are talking a little bit different dynamics here with these signs that are that close to the public roadway, we really need to make sure that standard, although is perfect for the interstate may need some tweaking. I think Staff can do a lot of the background because there is an enormous amount of that work going on all over the country; there is probably model stuff that can be gathered. I think that our code says “a million square feet or more and must be a PUD” and there are some other conditions; maybe we do bring that down to 500,000 square feet or 300,000 square feet. We want to help businesses and we want to keep businesses prospering; it is an age that we have to consider that we are not going to be hanging letters up on signs any more, we have to be progressive. I think our code needs to be looked at and the standards because of the proximity to where the traffic will be, definitely needs to be looked at; it can’t be exactly the same formula as what we allow on the expressway signs because of brightness.

Mr. McErlane: Just to give some insight to our Staff discussions particularly to this development, if you are familiar with the message boards that they currently have they do a good job of advertising for their tenants. Because it is a multi-tenant center it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to try to put a dozen names up on a sign because it is not effective. Rather than see eight panels and a message board, which I think is a little over-kill, to advertise your major tenants and then use the message board for your smaller tenants makes sense. What we discussed with Staff, if we were going to write it into the code it would be over a certain square footage and multi-tenant center so you can utilize it in that manner and not mess up a decent sign by putting a lot of panels on there that are ineffective. If the Planning Commission thinks that it can be handled through the PUD process I think it is still important to explain the reasoning behind that because when BZA gets the first application in for a Walgreens or a CVS they need something to point to that says “this is how your application differs from theirs”.

Mr. Galster: If you look at BZA and the volume of people wanting a variance to allow sheds to be a certain size; once that became obvious that there was a cause for a variance of such abundance, it drove the need to change the code. I don’t know that we won’t get there at some point but I think that being restrictive is a good thing. In this circumstance in this particular project I think we do need to look at the levels of light; the times that they change and how often they change, differently than what we would on the interstate. But I think that we should do that on a case by case basis.

Chairman Butrum: I think we need to form a subcommittee to start looking at that.

Mr. Vanover: If it is down on paper then we have a defensible position; let’s face it we are in a legalistic society right now. The nice thing about the message boards is that we are less likely to have the blacked out bands that we have existing right now.

Mrs. Ghantous: If there is a good solid tenant and we have a reason not to approve their sign; there is no reason to take a chance on hurting somebody’s feelings or risk them thinking we are picking on their type of business. There is no reason to create that type of relationship.

Chairman Butrum: We are going to be forming a subcommittee so we need three members and a member of Staff. Mr. Okum will Chair?

Mr. Okum: Yes.

Chairman Butrum: Mr. Galster and Mr. Bauer and we need a Staff member.
(Mr. McErlane was chosen.)

Mayor Webster: I think Tom really hit it on the head with the vacant signs, we all deplore those; the solution is right there with the electronic message boards. I don’t want to drive down Kemper or 747 and see them at every place. When we officially formed the first committee to take a look at those things, the thought process was that we wanted to make it easy for Tri-County to have a sign. I think we need to be a little bit more liberal with those message boards.

Mr. Galster: Just a quick comment on the maintenance; maintenance could become an issue – the cost for maintenance on these signs would be more than replacing a panel.

Mayor Webster: I think that we have done a good job of writing the code to reflect what we wanted five years ago, and I don’t think it reflects what we need today.

VIII. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

Chairman Butrum: I had a handful of signs in the past three months that I approved:
    1. Sign A Rama – 115 West Kemper
2. Cassinelli Pylon Signs – Princeton Pike
3. Atrium Hotel – 30 Tri-County Boulevard
4. Carnival Island – 157 Northland Boulevard
5. Northrup Grumman – 225 Pictoria Drive

Also, I want to mention this will be Mr. Osborn’s last visit here, at least as our City Administrator. He obviously did an amazing job over the past 35 years.

IX. ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Vanover moved to adjourn and Mr. Galster seconded the motion and the Planning Commission adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

________________________,2009 ___________________________________
            Chairman Tony Butrum


________________________,2009 ___________________________________
            Lawrence Hawkins III, Secretary