SPECIAL PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
DECEMBER 22, 2009
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, Don Darby, Steve Galster, and Tom Vanover
Others Present: Mr. Jonathan Wocher, City Planner
III. OLD BUSINESS
(No items of Old Business were presented.)
IV. NEW BUSINESS
Chairman Butrum: Revised Sign Package for Pictoria Tower 225 Pictoria Drive
Mr. Bill Woodward: I am with Tipton Interest and with the developers of Pictoria Tower and also with the management and represent MEPT, who is the pension fund that actually owns the building; in addition to management we also do the leasing. We have a wonderful new prospect who signed a letter on intent for 88,000 s.f., that is about 2 ½ floors. The tower is about 63% leased at the current time; it had been higher but the State of Ohio left one full floor. This would be a great addition to the tower but also to the City of Springdale. It is a tenant that you would be very happy with. There will be a lot of people hired, close to 300 new employees. One of the requirements is significant signage. They picked this location primarily because of access and visibility off of the Interstate. They want signage on all three sides of the tower but not the north-side, as well as a pylon sign similar to the pylon sign that is out there right now. We presented the package; with me tonight is Sally Land with United Maier Sign who has done all of the signage out there.
(At this time Mr. Wocher read Staff Comments from William McErlane, Building Official and from Anne McBride, City Planner.)
Chairman Butrum: I just want to clarify that Ms. McBride is not talking so much about a pylon sign, but a ground mounted sign.
Before we start, we will ask our two Council Members if they believe this represents a major departure from the approved plan.
(At this time Mr. Glaster and Mr. Vanover acknowledged that they did not feel this was a major departure from the approved plan.)
Mr. Galster: I think what the applicant is asking for is a total of six signs, assuming that there is no pylon sign and it is all on-building signage; one on the west, two on the east, and three on the south.
Mr. Woodward: Yes, six is what we really had in mind on the building. As I understand we currently have a sign approved along the Interstate, a ground mounted sign.
Mr. Galster: Correct. I would rather see a ground mounted sign than up on the building, because if you go back into the residential areas it is pretty bright from some of those signs that are up there right now; especially the Northrup sign.
You are really looking for six total signs on the building and the ground mounted sign that would have one or two tenants on it, correct?
Mr. Woodward: We are looking for the ability to land the tenant and what they wanted was a pylon sign, similar to what is there with their name on the highway, plus three on the building.
Mr. Galster: The question is, if you end up with a pylon sign, can you move some of your existing signage that is on the building to the pylon sign?
Mr. Woodward: With Northrup we can do that.
Mr. Galster: But you dont know if you can do that with Beckfield or Prexus.
What about the Health Company?
Mr. Woodward: They have to stay on the building.
Chairman Butrum: What Staff was trying to do is say, if you move Northrup off of the building that is where Option A comes in; and have two tenants on the ground mounted sign, one being the new tenant and one being Northrup. Then you could go to Beckfield and say that you have the ability to put them on the ground mounted sign if they are willing to come off of the building.
Mr. Galster: My personal opinion is, if we can get them on the pylon sign I would prefer to do that. My only concern with a pylon sign is that I really dont like the look of blank signs. I think it would be important to have the two pylon signs look the same; I disagree, a little bit with Ms. McBride because I think it would be important to have these two look the same; so I think her height is at 25 and the existing sign is 50. I am having a hard time visualizing the two different pylon signs when they are designed for continuity in the development, but if it only has two panels on it, I dont know.
Mr. Wocher: I think the intent was because of a different type of user, an office user versus a restaurant user and the scale of signs. I think your point is valid but that is the rational that an office use doesnt demand the need for such a high sign.
Chairman Butrum: Priority one, was to try to minimize the signs on the building. Priority two, was to have the sign look more indicative of office space rather than retail consumer type of sign but still have something that is complimentary to the look of the existing sign from Pappadeaux.
Mr. Woodward: One thing that we did have Sally do is take a look at the size of the sign panel and at 50 it was really ineffective and she did some traffic studies and travel speed and distance from the sign and it was pretty clear from the study that at this location we need to have that 100 s.f. for the sign panels, per panel.
Mr. Galster: So can you make a ground mounted sign with two panels work?
Mr. Woodward: We are looking for three panels; I think you would have to design the sign to accommodate three panels.
Mr. Okum: I dont recall a lot of office developments with pylon signs. I am not sold on the pylon signs at this point because I think that we might have to be concerned with Tower II and its development. I agree with Mr. Galster when he said he didnt want blank panels.
Mr. Vanover: The pylon sign that is existing out there right now is facing I-275, the bulk of it comes right at you on I-275. You could take this drawing here and expand it, there are three panels, you could make that 15and still keep the elevation. I am not sold on the pylon for office.
Mr. Galster: Does your applicant require that it be a pylon sign or can it be ground sign or is some type of identity sign something like they are looking for?
Mr. Woodward: I think that I could convince them that a ground sign could do the same thing. My personal feeling is I think that you guys are all right, that a ground sign gives a better feel for an office use, than a pylon sign.
Mr. Galster: I think a ground mounted sign is the general consensus here. The only place where I see a potential problem is on your east elevation where Beckfield College is, if in fact your tenant wants to be on all three sides of that building.
Do you need to have something that ties it down that says how many panels and how many square feet?
Mr. Woodward: Anne had two alternatives; I think we need to have the ability to have up to five panels on the building.
Mr. Galster: So if we go to 3 at 100 s.f. and they can work it up however they want; when you have a final design and you bring it back in for final approval then we can address the Pictoria header square footage. The only thing is if there is an empty space it would need to be painted out like the frosting on the sign, to make it blend in.
My preference is Option B, because I would like to see those signs come off the building.
Chairman Butrum: That is the preference of Staff, as well.
Mr. Galster: So, Option A is 250 total s.f., two tenant signs at 100 s.f. plus the 50 s.f. for Pictoria, with five building signs. Option B gets revised to a total 350 s.f. of which 300 s.f. is tenant signage and 50 s.f. is Pictoria, with four building signs.
Mr. Wocher: We havent really talked about height, what I wrote down was for Option A: five building signs at 200 s.f. each and 200 s.f. of tenant space on the ground sign plus 50 s.f. for Pictoria. Option B: Four building signs at 200 s.f. and 300 s.f. of tenant space on the ground sign, 50 s.f. for Pictoria, with flexibility. Do we want to have a range on height or do we want to say a maximum height for the ground sign?
Mr. Galster: I dont know what height that is going to need to be to make it look right.
Mr. Woodward: If you want to say no more that 35 or something like that; I cant imagine it being that high.
Mr. Galster: I dont know how to lay it out because I dont know what kind of look you are looking for.
Mr. Woodward: I think that if you are looking for this ground sign option, using this for the basis of the discussion that has taken place, this bottom panel is 4 and if you add another 4 to that it is about 13; lets say 15 and that gives some base at the bottom. I would assume that would be in 12 to 15 range.
Mr. Galster: So Option B, which has the more square footage would be 15 tall, and Option A would be back at 10 tall.
Mr. Woodward: I feel a building monument sign is usually a fairly square shape.
Mr. Galster: We have given you the square footage, what if we just say that the final height to be determined at final approval; otherwise we are designing the sign and that is what we said we didnt want to do.
Mr. Okum: They dont need to come back unless we say final sign shall be approved by Planning Commission; we would need to put that in the motion.
Ms. Land: Is there a restriction that this ground sign has to be parallel?
Mr. Galster: Not necessarily, no.
Mr. Woodward: Im thinking we would want to have a perpendicular sign. This would go back to the question about this 10 off of I-275 right of way line, is there any real desire or need to do that?
Mr. Galster: When you have a final design with a final look where you think it needs to be, then if we need to re-address that we could because you will be in front of us again. For right now lets leave that as it is and wait to see what the final design is.
Mr. Okum: I move that we approve the Pictoria Corporate Center sign revisions with the following conditions, that the signage shall include either option A or option B:
Option A: Five building signs on the main Tower 1 of not to exceed 200 square foot each, one ground mounted sign based on sign sketch provided
11-6-01 (#1348) consisting of 250 square feet.
Option B: Four building signs of not to exceed 800 square feet total, one ground mounted sign based on sign sketch provided 11/6/01 (#1348) consisting of 350 square feet.
Final sign shall be reviewed and approved by Planning Commission.
Landscaping surrounding the sign unit shall be provided and reviewed by Staff.
Seconded by Mr. Galster and with a unanimous aye vote the request was granted with conditions.
Chairman Butrum: Zoning Code Amendment for electronic signs; in your packet you saw the revisions that Bill had made for our last round of feed-back.
Mr. Okum: I am Chairman of the Committee and everyone from the Committee is here except Staff. I brought up at the last meeting that I still have a concern that the nit factor is the same ratio that we are using on the big sign on I-275 that is permitted for the larger square feet sign and I dont know how we can control that, but the only thing is that it concerns me that we have over-lighting or super bright light in our public right of ways and I dont know how to control that. It is not a matter of putting a light meter underneath it but it is a matter of if it looks right, and that is personal preference. I am so in favor of getting this on the floor and getting it to Council for a vote, but what I am concerned about is that we are going to end up with an over-lighting issue with these digital lighted signs and there has got to be some regulatory action that has been done some place in this country. We have the quality of the unit, we have the height of the unit and we have the set back of the unit, we have all that tied down but we dont have the brightness tied down and I really feel that we need to get that tied down because we could have a real problem; I cant support it at this point. It is going to be at the discretion of the people or those that see the sign that are objecting to it and there has got to be something out there that can tie that down. At 5,000 nits, it works for a billboard but I dont think it works for the public right of way.
Mr. Galster: I agree, talking to the sign manufacturers they will tell you that the location of the sign and the height of the sign, the size of the sign and how far it is from the right of way, all those things will determine what brightness level is appropriate. Every one of them are site specific. I think that we have to come up with a way of evaluating it based on where they are located in relationship to the right of way and also require that the brightness level be adjustable, they are adjustable.
Chairman Butrum: How do we regulate the noise ordinance?
Mr. Galster: We go out there with a meter and stand in different areas and measure it.
Chairman Butrum: So there is a standard that is applied. So is there a formula; and I guess the main variables are nits, distance and height.
Mr. Galster: What is coming straight out of the sign face is going to be totally different, if in fact it is 3 off of the ground or 30 off the ground.
Chairman Butrum: Do we want to take the sign companies formula of applying those variables and put it into our sign code? The tricky part is having language so it is not subjective. I am in favor of Mr. Okums suggestion of doing a little bit more homework and find out what is an appropriate formula based on at least those three variables.
Mr. Okum: Currently in our Code we control over-lighting with our parking lot lighting so that it doesnt negatively affect the adjoining properties. I used to make that in my motion all the time and finally we got it put into legislation and it is in the Code.
Chairman Butrum: I had suggested in the previous meeting that the 5,000 nit, or whatever that magic number is, is for all white because that is going to be the worst case scenario.
Mr. Okum: We definitely have to get that reference in the Code.
Mr. Galster: I am sure that there is some type of formula to plug in. I have two or three sign companies that will probably tell me what they use.
Mr. Wocher: It is common for Codes to contain a maximum foot candle for signs at a property line; but I dont know if that is what you are looking for. It will be a difficult standard to have because you are going to have to have that applicant do a detailed study of the conditions surrounding that sign and present to you that information.
Mr. Vanover: We have to come up with a ruler that we can use to enforce this. OSHA might have something out there as far as a safety standard. Somewhere there is a yardstick.
Mr. Wocher: I believe you could do this one of two ways, either have your own City Staff do it or hire somebody to do it on your behalf, or you may be able to have the applicant provide proof that theyre meeting the plans that you approve. Either way, somebody would have to go out and measure it. There would be manufacturers specifications for that design, for that sign panel that tells them what nits they are designed to handle and flash per second and all that is built into the sign, is my understanding. It gets complicated because of the variables that are involved.
Chairman Butrum: Mr. Galster, if you could find out what you can and then email everybody on the Sub-Committee, and obviously include Bill.
Mr. Galster: I could do that with the sign companies and their numbers, but I cant do the OSHA thing.
Mr. Vanover moved to adjourn, and with a unanimous aye vote from the Planning Commission, the meeting adjourned at 8:27 p.m.
Chairman Tony Butrum
Richard Bauer, Secretary