PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
DECEMBER 8, 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: Anne McBride, City Planner; William McErlane, Building Official;
Don Shvegzda, City Engineer; Jeff Tulloch, Development Director


III. ELECTION OF OFFICERS

Election of Chairman
Mr. Okum nominated Mr. Tony Butrum for Chairman of Planning Commission; seconded by Mr. Galster. With no further nominations Mr. Okum closed the nominations, seconded by Mr. Vanover. With a unanimous vote Mr. Tony Butrum accepted the Chairman position for Planning Commission for 2010.

Election of Vice-Chairman
Mr. Steve Galster nominated Mr. Dave Okum for Vice-Chairman of Planning Commission; seconded by Mr. Vanover. With no further nominations Mr. Vanover moved to close the nominations, seconded by Mr. Darby. With a unanimous vote Mr. Dave Okum accepted the Vice-Chairman position for Planning Commission for 2010.

Election of Secretary
Mr. Vanover nominated Mr. Bauer for Secretary of Planning Commission; seconded by Mr. Galster. With no further nominations Mr. Vanover moved to close the nominations, seconded by Mr. Galster. With a unanimous vote Mr. Bauer accepted the Secretary position for Planning Commission for 2010.

Election of Liaison to the Board of Zoning Appeals
Mr. Galster nominated Mr. Okum as Liaison to the Board of Zoning Appeals,
Mr. Vanover seconded. With no further nominations Mr. Vanover moved to close the nominations, Mr. Darby seconded. With a unanimous vote Mr. Okum accepted the position of Liaison to the Board of Zoning Appeals for 2010.

IV. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF NOVEMBER 10, 2009

Mr. Vanover moved to adopt the November 10, 2009 Planning Commission meeting minutes, Mrs. Ghantous seconded the motion; the minutes were adopted with six affirmative votes and one abstention from Mr. Darby.

V. REPORT ON COUNCIL

Mr. Steve Galster presented the report on Council summarizing that new Council members were sworn in at the December 1st meeting; he also reported that at the
December 2nd meeting appointments to the Boards and Committees were made, and Mr. Darby, who is here, is a Mayor’s appointment.


VI.    OLD BUSINESS

A. Chairman Butrum: Wireless Communication Tower Conditional Use Permit –
11970 Kenn Road; we did receive an email from the applicant requesting a continuance.

Mr. Okum: Based upon the request from the applicant to continue the Public Hearing for the Conditional Use Variance, I move that we approve that continuance to the next Planning Commission Meeting of January 12, 2010. Mr. Tom Vanover seconded the motion and with a unanimous vote from the Planning Commission Members the request for a continuance was granted.

B. Chairman Butrum: Kemper Pond Center – IHOP Variance Request from the Tree Preservation Ordinance at 1309 and 1333 East Kemper Road.

Mr. McErlane: I sent a reminder to the applicant on the 20th of November that any revised plans or submissions needed to be in by the 27th. We didn’t receive anything on the 27th and I called the applicant on the 30th; the response I initially got from him was that he didn’t have anything to do with that request anymore and that was left to the owner. I was visited by him, who is a contractor for the owner, and another individual and they told me at that point and time that they were going to go back and talk with the owner and try to convince the owner to do something and he hasn’t done anything yet. It appears on the agenda because it was tabled.

Mr. Okum: Mr. Chairman and Mr. McErlane, would it be inappropriate then that the City not issue any permits on that site until they comply.

Mr. McErlane: There is nothing in the ordinance that would allow you to do that. Certainly we could take some action against them relative to the two trees that were in the right of way that were taken down without permission; part of the problem is typically if an appeal is made we suspend any legal action until the appeal process goes through.

Mr. Okum: The Commission would take action on the request for the appeal and deny it and I think we should take that action at the next meeting. The owner basically has turned his back on the request of the City to come forward with a reasonable adjustment.

Chairman Butrum: I agree.

Mr. Okum: I make a motion to table this item.
Mr. Darby: One thing I remember from Planning Commission is that there are good notes and having read about this case I can support this motion.
Mr. Galster seconded the motion.
With a unanimous “aye” vote from the Planning Commission Members the variance request from the Tree Preservation Ordinance at 1309 and 1333 E. Kemper Road was tabled.


VII. NEW BUSINESS

No new business items were presented.

VIII. DISCUSSION

A. Zoning Code Amendment – Electronic Signs

Mr. McErlane: The signs are only permitted in General Business Districts and PUD's, and only in the General Business District as a Conditional Use which would require them to come to this Commission regardless of whether or not it might need subsequent variances. They can only be in development areas and the Code defines development area as “a group of properties or a property that has been developed as a single entity that have at least 500 feet of frontage on a primary or secondary arterial street. A map was provided to show what properties that would include; those are the properties that are permitted to have a single electronic sign.
The details for the particular sign are limited to our parameters for a ground sign; basically you are permitted two ground signs on a development and one of those can be an electronic sign. The parameters for our ground signs are a maximum 7’ in height and no more that 100 s.f. in area, 10’ from a right of way and 25’ from an adjacent property line – I think it is 50’ from a residential property line. The electronic sign display panel, because we were trying to keep from having too small of a panel such that it is not even functional, we limited it to 45 to 75 square feet and in addition to that we didn’t want the sign panel to be just the electronic sign panel so we have said that it can only make up 75% of the sign face; the overall sign has to be more than just the electronic sign panel. We have limited the pitch of the LED spacing to 16mm maximum which is basically the spacing between dots. We have limited the intensity of the light so that it is not so bright at night time and it is allowed to be up to 5,000 nits during the day, 1,500 nits at night and we have also added language that is similar to language we have in our parking lot lighting section that says you can’t have light trespass onto an adjacent parcel use for residential purposes. The display cannot display for less than 10 seconds so we want it to be a static for 10 seconds; it needs to change instantaneously or nearly instantaneously with no transition effects so that you can’t have it swirl in and out. It is required to be a static message with no scrolling or animated messages and the language we have on the sign structure is similar to what we have for the PUD major highway signs, in that the architectural style has to match the buildings in the development and there is also a language about maintaining them. A couple of things that I think we need to discuss because I think it will be difficult to live within the 7’ height requirement that we have but I think that was a starting point that the Committee had come up with and I am not sure where you want to go with that. The other thing is 45 s.f. may be a little bit too big for the lower end of that sign spectrum; I think you can live with
25 s.f. and still have a decent sign face.

Mr. Okum: Part of the process that the Committee went through was to look at what standards you would have for quality of light and we looked at two sign companies and found that on their website they show the pitch or dot face and the quality of sign; local traffic and signs that are close to the right of way, we don’t want it to be like “Jungle Jim’s”; and that is how the 16mm spacing of dots is set and the sign quality is going to be close to a printed sign. We are going to push for a better quality of sign especially in the smaller sign places.

(At this time several Power Point demonstrations of signs were shown to display the various dot face quality.)

Mr. Okum: The only thing that concerned me when I did research is that the terminology changes, they use millimeter and then they have something called “OT” and “MT” and I’m not sure what that means; so should we say equivalent in the verbiage in case the language changes?

Mr. McErlane: O.K.

Chairman Butrum: I would say “visual equivalent” because you don’t want an engineering term to define what equivalent means.

Mr. McErlane: The way our Zoning Code reads is if you can see more than one face standing in any particular place then it counts as two faces, so it is two signs. The questions that I would pose to the Planning Commission are size of the panel and height of the sign.

Mr. Okum: In those two districts, what is the required set back from the right of way?

Mr. McErlane: The minimum for a ground sign is 10’ from the right of way. Typically on some of the major routes there may be a little less than 12’ of right of way; but there is typically 12’ of right of way and then another 10’ to the ground sign, so you are talking 22’ – 22 ’ to the sign.

Mr. Okum: And these would only apply to properties of 500’. Anne, what are you seeing in other communities, as far as height?

Ms. McBride: Ground mounted signs, between 8’ and 12’.

Mr. Galster: When we look at the ground mounted signs that are 7’, 8’ to 12’, they are just blocks that block vision and if we start putting video display boards down at eye height when you are driving down the road, I think that is less desirable than having it up on a pole, because it is going to be vibrant and it is going to change. I am not a fan of the 7’ monument signs, as it is; and to grow bigger just doesn’t work for me; I think you will end up blocking views. I don’t want to say that everything needs to be site specific, but those numbers may need to be modified if it is right out on top of the roadway.

Chairman Butrum: What if the sign is mostly white, which is the brightest?

Mr. Okum: How much white and how long is the white visible.

Mr. McErlane: Maximum is maximum, so it would probably be the whitest.

Chairman Butrum: We would measure it based on pure white?

Mr. McErlane: Right.

Mr. Galster: If I am driving down the road and they are at eye height, that just seems like too much of a distraction to me; I am more in favor of getting them up and say there is a minimum height and have them be on at least a 12’ or 15’ pole but not a solid mass. Because of the illumination that is going to happen with these signs, I think they are better off at a higher height than they are at eye level. When you try to get into the light spillage, I think that is going to be a little tough to enforce; when you think of our residential, we need to be cautious of that.

Mr. Okum: We allow one pole sign or two monument signs?

Mr. McErlane: Right.

Mr. Okum: We are not increasing the allowable signage on any parcel by this legislation; this is an alternate to existing signage. What is our height limit to the top on pole signs?

Mr. McErlane: On a pole sign, it is 25’.

Mr. Darby: If we increase the height, that increases separation from the ground, consequently it creates a situation where there is more possibility of attractive ground cover. Have we given up on trying to make that a reality?

Mr. McErlane: No, we have provisions for maintenance it is just a matter of getting it done.
If you think about the possibility of opening it up to more of a pylon sign, I think the majority of the places you see on the provided map may fit. The only one I would have some concern about would be the Town Center; this allows that PUD review of it.

Mr. Okum: They are all going to come through Planning Commission review anyway. I don’t have a problem with putting them up; I still want to encourage ground mounted signs but I think in this particular case it is better up than down.

Ms. McBride: I think the majority of them that you see are up, they are in larger developments and they are on their main development sign.

Mr. Okum: We could modify the Corridor Review District standards and we can modify the PUD for the Town Center if they did come in and allow a limited height pylon sign for that development.
Ms. McBride: Yes, having looked at the Corridor Review it does provide that the signs need to be ground mounted. If you are interested in putting these in the Corridor Review District then there probably ought to be some amendments, some changes made to the language.

Mr. Okum: I think Steve Galster brought up a good point; I am going to be supporting a pylon sign. I think we need to look at our Corridor Review District wording but it won’t drive this.
We have an agreement of 35’ square feet, and I think that is a good number; and everybody is in agreement with pole signs.
Bill said we do not want to use minimum LED; I suggest we word it “not to exceed LED pitch spacing” instead of the word “maximum”; we want them to be under.

Chairman Butrum: I think this is right, I think maximum is the right word.

Mr. Okum: And Chairman suggested “visual equivalent”; how does Staff feel about that?

Mr. McErlane: That is fine.

Mr. Okum: I think we need to control the amount of off-lighting into the public right of way.

Chairman Butrum: I don’t know how.

Mr. Okum: Can we do this under Conditional Use Variance?

Mr. McErlane: Conditional Use plus the language we have.

Ms. McBride: There is also, under Section 153.524 under illumination of signs and temporary search lights, there is the clause in there that says “light sources utilized to illuminate signs and light sources… reasonable objections which is hazardous to pedestrians or drivers of vehicles, or cause reasonable objections from adjacent residential districts”, I think there is language in the code, as well as in this sub-district that protects us from the glare onto the public right of way.

Mr. Okum: If they are a PUD does it still come through a Conditional Use?

Mr. McErlane: No, PUD would come to Planning Commission anyway for everything.

Mr. Okum: The GB would be under Conditional Use, no matter what, they are coming to us?

Mr. McErlane: Yes. First paragraph says “such signs shall be permitted only in Planned Unit Development districts or conditionally permitted in General Business district.

Mr. Vanover: I have a comment, with the elevation of the signs the physics will take care of the reflection, the more obtuse your angle is the lower that reflection is going to be.

Mr. Okum: Maximum height of 25’.

Mr. McErlane: We somehow have to adjust the language to say that it is a substitution for one of the signs that is permitted.

Mr. Okum: And we agree that it maintains 10’ from the right of way line.
Are we going to bring this back to the next meeting?

Mr. McErlane: Yes.

B. Mr. Jeff Tulloch: Over the course of the last two months we have been working with the representatives of Pictoria and they have identified a 70,000 s.f. user that will basically take the balance of the space, the 6th, 7th, and half of the 8th floor. They will start off with an employment of 285 persons and then grow to 400 people over the course of five years. It is a company that we would be very proud to have in Springdale. There is an issue of signage; one of the things that attracted them to Pictoria was the location and access, but also the exposure to I-275. It could be desirable to have a special Planning Commission meeting between now and the end of the month to address this. They want to execute a deal by the end of December.

Mr. Galster: This will totally lease out the whole building, so we don’t have to worry about any additional building signage?

Mr. Tulloch: Yes.

Mr. Galster: I’m o.k. with the three building signs and I’m o.k. with a pylon sign at the interstate; my only concern with a pylon sign is that we don’t end up with blank panels like we have on the Papadeaux sign right now.

Mr. Okum: If things turn around Tower II is going to happen. The sign from Northrup definitely made an impact on the neighborhood, on off-light coming off of the sign and I would be concerned about the increased illumination on that building.

Mr. Galster: Northrup’s sign is all white. We need to be careful about white panels.

Mr. Tulloch: This is nighttime light; during the day they are o.k.
What about the contemplation of not doing a panel sign, but doing a single corporate sign, as opposed to the Pappadeaux’s sign?

Mr. Okum: Provided that upon the development of Tower II they become incorporated into Tower II’s design. I don’t have a problem with them going on the Pappadeaux sign temporarily.

Mr. McErlane: I think if we were looking at something that is more like a monument sign for Tower I, that if Tower II came along I don’t think it would be out of line to allow them to have a monument sign as well for Tower II, as opposed to a pylon sign that you don’t typically see with an office development.

Mr. Okum: And I don’t have any problem with them having that monument sign lit, and again, that it doesn’t distort or become a glare issue for the Interstate.

Mr. Vanover: I don’t have a problem with this sign.

Chairman Butrum: I guess one question I have, for east-bound traffic and the west most face, you are going to have two parallel signs on the width side of that building, how close are they going to be; you are going to need enough negative space between them so that it doesn’t look like a run-on sign?

Mr. Tulloch: The kind of question that Bill and I addressed is a future sign because they got it, do they really need it if they are going to be at 100% lease and they have got the client sign, the blue stripe why do they need the other red one?

Chairman Butrum: That is my single biggest issue, I can’t imagine on that short side of the building squeezing two, in other words if Northrup and Beckfield were there it wouldn’t work. Other than that, I am good with this sign.

Mr. Okum: So we are assuming that 40% of the building occupancy dictates predominance on the building; there should be some benchmark, or is it up to the landlord?

Chairman Butrum: I think it is one of those self-governing things.
Does anyone disagree with the direction that Jeff and Bill are going to go back with?
(No Planning Commission Member acknowledged disapproval.)
Mr. Tulloch: For the Special Planning Commission meeting, the optimum date would be December 22, 2009.

Chairman Butrum: I am fine with December 22nd.

Mr. Tulloch: Steve and Tom need to make a determination if this is a major or minor change.
(Both Steve Galster and Tom Vanover, City Council Members, indicated that they did not believe it is a major change.)


IX. CHAIRMAN’S REPORT

Chairman Butrum: There were three new signs that I approved -
NYC Cellular – 338 Northland Boulevard: wall sign;    
Treehouse Kids – 11755 Princeton Pike: wall sign and panel change to pole sign;
Eyemart – 11711 Princeton Pike: two wall signs.

   
X. ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Vanover moved to adjourn, Mr. Bauer seconded and with a unanimous “aye” vote from the Planning Commission, the meeting adjourned at 8:47 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

________________________,2010 ___________________________________
            Chairman Tony Butrum


________________________,2010 ___________________________________
                Richard Bauer, Secretary