21 JANUARY 2003

7:00 P.M.

  2. The meeting was called to order at 7:03 p.m. by Chairman David Okum.

  4. Members Present: Robert Apke, Fred Borden, Councilwoman

    Marjorie Pollitt, Councilman Jim Squires,

    Robert Weidlich, Jane Huber and Chairman


    Others Present: Richard G. Lohbeck, Inspection Supervisor

  7. Mrs. Huber moved to approve and Mr. Apke seconded the motion. By voice vote all voted aye, and the Minutes were approved unanimously.

    1. Zoning Bulletin – December 10, 2002
    2. Zoning Bulletin – December 24, 2002
    3. Zoning Bulletin Index – 2002
    4. Guidelines – Board of Zoning Appeals
    5. Planning Partnership Annual Meeting Invitation


    1. Report on Council Activities – Jim Squires

Mr. Squires reported that we have eliminated two animals from the animal nuisance program, squirrels and opossums. Council at the recommendation of the administration chose not to take part in establishing a Hamilton County Regional Storm Water District. After having studied the document and listening to testimony, it was agreed that this was nothing more than establishing another bureaucracy in Hamilton County, and that Springdale can effectively manage its own storm water. Over a two-year period, it would have cost about $1 million.

The CSX program is shelved; we don’t know for how long, and we’re not sure exactly why. There was an agreement among ODOT, CSX Railroad and the construction company to do this work. All three parties signed that agreement, and CSX has decided that they want to do more of that work on their own. Because of this, CSX decided to back out of it. The project was scheduled to begin in spring of 2003 and be completed in 2005 at a cost of $11.5 million (Springdale’s share would be around $400,000.)

For more than 10 years, Springdale City Council has been trying to work with ODOT and Butler County people to get this done because of the huge traffic tie-ups we have there. We were advised that suing would not be a wise way to go.


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Mr. Squires added that CSX is a huge company, a utility with many laws on their side. They could delay and delay, and eventually we might win, but the only ones who would gain from this are the lawyers. There are more communities affected than just Springdale.

Per ODOT’s recommendation, there will be no litigation in this matter. ODOT is still totally committed to this project and the contractor is, so the onus is on CSX.

B. Report on Planning Commission – Dave Okum – no meeting



    1. Owners of John Morrell Co., 805 East Kemper Road request variance to allow the construction of a permanent ground sign to be located 11’-11" above existing grade. Said variance is requested from Section 153.523(D) "Permanent ground signs shall not extend higher than seven feet above the finished grade."

Mike Cassedy, General Manager of United Signs and Marty Butler, Vice President of John Morrell approached the board. Mr. Cassedy reported that the sign area is 83.6 s.f., and we are permitted 125 s.f. We did a survey of the location and determined how to address the need to identify this location.

The corporate offices were moved into this facility, and it changed the environment and what they were looking to try to do. Your code says that the top of the sign can be no higher than seven feet. What we tried to do, and we have done it in other municipalities, is artificially raise the grade by berming and mounding. That is not allowed in your jurisdiction.

Tonight we are here not looking for an additional sign or more square footage. We looked over the location and determined that the 83 s.f. sign would work satisfactorily. What we realized was that the height of the sign is a problem because of where we are having it located. We have looked at all the locations available to us, and the optimum location is on the west side of the drive.

There is only one ingress and egress into that facility. What they could do to help themselves is develop another ingress and egress all the way down at the west end for the tractor-trailers to come in. They have elected not to do that because it helps control some of their security.

I have put together a package to show you some of the work that we did to determine the sign height. (He passed out the information to the members.)


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Mr. Cassedy stated that the code requires that we have a 28-foot setback. On that same side of the street is a whole line of trees. We found that if we moved it back to 35 feet, we had better visibility through those trees. We are trying to get all the new visitors that are looking for the John Morrell facility to visit the corporate office. In addition, we are using that same entranceway for all the commercial trucks. We determined that the size of the sign is okay, but the location becomes critical. Instead of having 28 feet to the curb, we have taken it back to 35 feet, which gives us better visibility.

You will see on page two a 5’ x 17’ temporary banner, which is the size of the sign we are talking about. However, the height from grade to the bottom of the sign is seven feet. We are not asking for seven feet, but we put it up that way to see how much visibility we would have in traveling east and west bound.

On the next page is a red line, which says it is the leading edge of the proposed sign. The actual edge closest to the street is where this sign would be if we were only set back 28 feet. We don’t need that; we want to be back further, so that red line tells you where the leading edge of the sign would be in relation to the street.

The following page shows the same thing traveling westbound.

We have had Delhi Garden Center give us an estimate on landscaping. On the next page, you see the relationship of the sign as it would be permitted by code versus how we would berm it up to get it to the height we need (Drawing 34430).

As you are sitting in a car, you have to look down at the sign to be able to read some of that copy, and that is not what we want. We want to have the sign at an elevation so it is almost at eye view when you sit in the car.

The second last page tells the story. The picture to the left with the sign superimposed on it shows how the existing landscaping would block the view of the sign if we have the top of the sign at seven feet. The bushes will hide John Morrell. The picture to the right shows how the sign would look when we install it with the variance we are requesting from you.

Marty Butler, Vice President of John Morrell said the plant is located in the front of the facility. More than half the people that try to find our corporate offices simply can’t find the building, especially when you are going westbound with the sign being obstructed. It is very confusing, and that is why we need the sign up there that tells them that it is both the corporate offices and the plant.



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Mr. Lohbeck reported that the applicant is requesting a variance to allow the erection of a ground sign 11’-11" high where Section 153.523(D) of the Zoning Code allows a maximum of 7 feet.

Although the height above the finished grade at the base of the sign will meet this requirement, it is accomplished by grading up 3’ to 5’ around the base of the sign from the existing grade. Section 153.522( C ) states, "The height of a sign shall be determined by measuring the vertical distance between the top part of the sign to the elevation of the ground beneath the sign prior to construction, excluding any additional elevation added by the creation of berming and mounding…".

Mounding will be as much as 11.5 horizontal in 5 feet vertical. This equates to a 2.3 to 1 slope, which is hardly gradual as described by the applicant.

The applicant has indicated that increased height is necessary because the existing grade at the proposed sign location is lower than the road. CAGIS topographic information shows the ground elevation at the proposed sign location to be approximately 2 feet lower than the centerline of East Kemper Road (see attached).

The sign height above the proposed mounding is 6’-11".

The sign area is 83.6 s.f. (4’-11" x 17’), which is less than the allowable area of 125 s.f. permitted by Section 153.532(A)(3)(a). (The 4’-11" dimension as shown on the sign drawings is incorrect; see attached).

The sign is located 35 feet from the edge of pavement, which will place it approximately 27 feet from the right of way. This exceeds the minimum setback of 10 feet required by Section 153.532(A)(4).

Mr. Okum said the pictures you provided convey a fairly visual example of your issue, but there is one thing I do not see here, the eastbound view of the sign on the mound in the same manner and the tree issue. I am only seeing one side of the sign. When I look at your westbound view, I see an opportunity to bring the sign a little closer to the right of way and lower it so the bushes would not be an obstruction. Those bushes continue to grow. If the sign were brought a little closer, is that mounding such necessity

I have a problem with mounding as a resolve to justify height. Had you considered going to our city planner with what you have done so far and try to come up with a resolve? I think there is one without this dramatic of a grade issue. You can achieve the look that you want and people would be able to see your business going eastbound and westbound.

It appears to me that eastbound will not be a problem. It also appears to me as a Planning Commission member that I have concerns about how it will appear going eastbound more than westbound. Westbound we are dealing with the bushes and the grade and the pole for the traffic signals. With eastbound, it may look like a sign on the hill, which it does on your drawing 34430.


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Mr. Okum added that there will be improvements in that road in the next five to 10 years that will bring the sign closer to the roadway because of the road widening and give you better access for your vehicles.

At this point, I would like to refer this to the city planner to work with you on this issue.

Mr. Cassedy responded it is news to me that we could go to the city planner and come up with something else that would work. That was the purpose of the surveys and studies that we had done. I can only ask you to look at 34200 in combination with a couple of the other drawings, and you can see as you would be traveling eastbound, how the trees would come into effect.

We tried bringing the sign closer. We put the banner as close to the road as we were permitted to see what it looked like, and it lost its readership. We were looking through the trees more so than we are when it is 35 feet back. If you only bring it up the seven feet that is allowed, that still leaves half the sign blocked by the bushes as you are traveling westbound.

I agree with what you are saying; the bushes do grow, but these types, the junipers spread out more than they will go up. I know that they will keep them pruned back. I am thinking that those bushes have been there for quite some time, and they have already been trimmed.

I don’t know how it works with the city planner. He would not be able to grant a variance, and I think that what we are proposing to you after our research on this is the most effective way it could be for this location.

The berm can be subtler. On some of our drawings we said three to five feet. We will bring a temporary sign back out there and mock that up and find out what exactly the appropriate height is between three and five to keep it to a minimum. That is why on some of our drawings and proposals to John Morrell we had it listed as three to five feet, because we couldn’t pinpoint that until we were ready to get into this.

We put up the temporary banner for two reasons. One was the positioning as it relates to the street and the height of the sign as it relates to grade. We realized that the seven feet was more than we actually needed, but we also realized that putting the sign out closer to Kemper Road gave us less visibility as you travel eastbound.

Mr. Okum responded the superimposed photo shows the sign approximately six inches to a foot lower than your white sign. Is there a reason for that?

Mr. Cassedy responded that it is pretty close to being about the same. At that distance it is hard to say that it is exactly six inches in viewing it at an angle.


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Mr. Cassedy added that the bottom of the banner is supposed to be seven foot off grade, and we were trying to superimpose the sign to the point where it was about the same elevation as the bottom of the banner itself. You actually are at a slightly higher elevation when reviewing this traveling westbound.

The banner was the same size as the sign 4’-11" x 17’, but the banner was installed at seven feet from grade to the bottom of the sign and we are only asking for five feet.

We’ll invite you to come out when we do the mockup. We will bring a crane out and fly the board up and do a measurement from the bottom of the board to grade to determine what that exact height needs to be so that it clears the bushes.

I understand your concern about the travel. All I can say is that the information we have submitted to you is the best we could make it.

Mr. Okum commented so your real request is somewhere between three and five, but a maximum of 12 feet. . Mr. Cassedy confirmed this, adding that was the fairest way to say it.

Mr. Squires said addressing Mr. Okum’s request to go to our city planner, that is a fine thing, but I think we have enough information to make a decision on this ourselves. These people have gone to considerable labor to present this problem to us. As far as the sign itself it concerned, many kudos to you and your staff for the monument sign there. I am really pleased with that. I see no problem with the eastbound traffic there. I think it is more visible eastbound than it will be westbound. Identifying your corporate offices on one sign is what you want and I can live with it. I like what I see.

Mr. Borden commented I don’t have a problem with what you are presenting here. It looks fine to me. I have a question on the construction of the sign itself. Is that illuminated?

Mr. Cassedy answered that it is internally illuminated. The copy will be the only portion of the sign that actually illuminates; the background won’t illuminate

Mr. Butler added this is important to us because we have a lot of trucks that go in and out of there at night, and the drivers need to be able to see the address.

Mr. Borden asked if it was 24 hours of illumination, and Mr. Cassedy responded that it probably would go on at dusk and off whenever. I can’t tell you specifically the restrictions.

Mr. Weidlich asked the height of the mound, and Mr. Cassedy answered that it is three to five feet. We knew that five would do the job, but we think it could be as low as three feet. Until we get the board out there to measure it, we will know exactly.




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Mr. Weidlich added I agree with Mr. Borden and Mr. Squires. I like your sign. I think it is going to be a nice attractive addition in that location.

Mr. Okum said if your sign works at 10, why not make it work at 10? Mr. Cassedy answered if it does. Mr. Okum added it does on your Wes-2 representation.

Mr. Cassedy said the answer to your question is this. When we get that mockup and actually fly out there, we will be in a gray area to lock it in, but it is pretty close to that five feet. I’m willing to bet that we’ll end up with a berm that is built up about four feet.

Mr. Okum said I disagree, because the white banner that you are showing is at 12 feet. According to the visual you provided, the sample sign that you have superimposed on here is at least one to two feet lower than that. John Morrell is just as visible, and very easy to see on that sign. Of course there is a pole in the way, but it doesn’t need to be higher than10 feet.

Mr. Cassedy responded the only way I know how to answer that is if we were to fly the mockup and we found out that the 10 feet would work, that is exactly what we would do. Mr. Butler added we don’t want to be an eyesore. All we want to do is for the sign to be able to be read by the drivers.

Mr. Okum said if you feel that location is fine and the board is going to make a motion to approve it, the landscaping that is handled by our city planner and should be reviewed by the city planner before you do your plantings. If the mound needs to be five feet wider at the base so it has a more gradual slope, so it’s not so dramatic, that should be brought into the product that you ultimately build. If this unit would work at 10 feet, which I believe it will based on what you have presented, I would much rather see a 10 foot. We have a lot of ground mounted signs in Springdale that hit 10 feet. When you go to 12 feet it is something unusual.

Yes, you have a huge facility there and I think it is a very positive look for your business and definitely an improvement. I would just like to see it more at the 10-foot threshold than 12 feet. I think that can be accomplished, and as long as you would incorporate staff involvement in the mounding and planting, I think you could have a happy medium.

Mr. Okum said my biggest concern is going eastbound. Westbound I can understand, but eastbound it will look like a sign on a hill. The lower the mounding is, the happier I will be, and I think the city will be much better if we maintained that 10-foot limit.

Mrs. Pollitt said I really like the sign too; I think it is a nice clean look. I don’t know exactly where this Kemper Road Phase II construction will go through, and how much of the greenery would be affected. You might want to research that before the sign goes in.


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Mr. Cassedy responded if they widen that road that will eliminate the trees and change the whole parameters of how the sign would be installed. That might be in five to 10 years and it’s hard to say how it would be impacted.

The other thing I wanted to mention was the fact that we went to Delhi Flower and Garden Center and got a proposal from them for the landscaping. It was part of this whole project, because we did have a concern about Springdale’s reaction to the sign. This sign will cost about $35,000, which is about three times what we anticipated. When we realized that we needed the landscaping, that was part of the effort.

Mrs. Pollitt commented I don’t have a problem with the sign; I think it looks nice.

Mr. Borden asked Mr. Okum if he were looking to get a fixed height for the sign. Mr. Okum answered not to exceed. I think that can be accomplished. If the applicant has difficulty with that, they can come back for reconsideration on the variance. I believe they have demonstrated that 10 feet would work. I would like it to not exceed 10 feet and have the landscaping and mounding be reviewed and approved by the city planner.

Mr. Okum opened the public hearing. No one was in the audience, and he closed the public hearing.

Mr. Squires moved to grant the variance to allow them to install a ground sign not to exceed 83.6 s.f. 11’-11" high and located 27 feet from the right of way as requested. Mr. Borden seconded the motion.

Voting aye were Mr. Squires, Mr. Borden, Mr. Apke, Mrs. Pollitt, Mr. Weidlich and Mrs. Huber. Mr. Okum voted no, and the variance was granted with six affirmative and one negative vote.

    1. Review of Board of Zoning Appeals Guidelines

Mr. Okum stated that Ms. McBride has sent her recommendations to us. Items 1 2 and 3 was in brief her direction was for the city. When the Zoning Code was approved, there was exact wording in the Zoning Code that is now referenced in this. So, this wording is directly out of our Zoning Code, so items in A 1 2 3 & 4 are out of the Zoning Code, so that can’t be adjusted. The rest are items that she has made some recommendations on wording.

There are some issues on reconsideration of variances. She had some very stern comments on that so I think we need to be careful about that.

I think we need to do a blending of this together. Does anyone want to make any comments tonight, or do we want to have Ms. McBride or Mr. Dale come to our February meeting and finalize this? Mr. Borden responded I prefer that.


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Mr. Lohbeck stated that Mr. McErlane and I were discussing this today, and before we can bring Ms. McBride or Mr. Dale in and because of the cost involved, we have to get approval from the city administration.

Mr. Okum responded we understand that, so if the board members wish to, we could request that the administration consider that. Mr. Squires moved that this board request the administration to approve Ms. McBride or Mr. Dale to attend the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting February 18, 2003. Mr. Borden seconded the motion.

Mr. Borden wondered if there were certain items we wanted to discuss with them, or do we want to go over the whole packet. Mr. Okum responded there are things I had made note of. For example, conditional variances should be specific to what items? If you are going to have conditions put on a variance, what items should be applied to that? I have four items:

    1. Time
    2. Buffering or adjoining properties and/or the public right of way
    3. The use
    4. Enhancements to properties that would improve the character for the public peace health safety and welfare of the neighborhood.

If you are doing conditions, they have to be specific to that type of condition. They can’t be personally generated. We currently have a variance on one property for a garage conversion to a bedroom for the purposes of an elderly person staying in that space. That is pretty personal, and pretty use oriented for that person. It is a little hard to have those type variances, because they stay with the land unless you put a time on it. By putting time limitations on it, your conditions can be held under a variance.

Mr. Borden said it sounds like that variance is not enforceable.

Mr. Okum said it is a little hard to make everything perfect, but this is a step in the right direction.

Mr. Okum said that Item J was struck from the document. In her memo she indicates that "if an application for a variance or an appeal is filed, the Board must consider them. Review is not at the Board’s discretion once an application has been filed. "

Mr. Borden wondered where the six-month period came from. Since I have been on the board, it has been six months. I don’t know where it originated. Mr. Okum responded he didn’t know, but laws have changed. We use the six-month period if there is no action taken on the variance. This is an appeal item to a denial.

She has referenced a section in here under meetings and some things we were saying that you could do and you shouldn’t do.



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Mr. Okum said under Section E, she indicated that the minutes are subject to the Ohio Public Records whether they have been officially accepted or not. She suggested that the records be marked "Draft" until the Board accepts them. Mrs. Webb indicated that we routinely do that.

Mr. Okum said there are good comments in here. I don’t know if they are truly in line with what the law director’s office would say but on the other hand, when you deal with rules and guidelines, you blend the two. You get your planner’s comments and recommendations, just as we did with the Zoning Code, and then it went to the law director for final review. I don’t think this will take that much, but I don’t want us acting improperly either.

Mrs. Pollitt said I am confused about J. If someone’s variance request is denied, they can’t appeal that decision? Mr. Okum responded they can appeal it to the Court of Common Pleas. Mrs. Pollitt continued so if their circumstances have changed drastically, can they appeal? Mr. Okum responded that basically becomes a new application.

Our terminology states that if the board denies a variance it need not consider the same request if submitted within six months after the date of decision, unless the underlying conditions for the request have changed. Mr. Borden said I think our wording is bad. Mr. Okum agreed, adding that what she is saying is that we don’t have the discretion to turn down any request for a variance. Mr. Borden added we don’t have the discretion not to hear it. So J has been eliminated, but we have always said if it were denied, you had to wait six months before you could come back with the same request.

Mr. Squires asked if this had the same application if no construction were done in six months. Mr. Okum said no, that is a separate item. That is a part of the Code.

Mr. Borden suggested going over this briefly now I don’t want to go over it in too much detail. Mrs. Huber said I thought we were going to have those people meet with us. Mr. Okum responded they want to try to make sure they get anything we want inserted clear, so they can come and do it one time.

Mrs. Pollitt said on Item B under Conduct of the Board of Zoning Appeals, she has marked out general marked out in terms of being open to the public. If there is a possibility that we might go into executive session, it should be noted in there. Mr. Borden agreed, adding that we need to talk about that. Maybe we should change the word general to regular. Mrs. Pollitt is talking about executive session. Mr. Okum said there are sunshine law requirements. You would still have to have your meeting, adjourn into executive session and then come out and report on the topic discussed. Mr. Borden responded so you can’t have an executive session by itself. With that explanation, I am fine with her changes.




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Mr. Okum said F. clarifies conflict of interest, "as defined by law". It doesn’t need any more explanation than that, because the laws are very specific on what conflict of interest is.

Section I. "A record of approved variances with time limitations shall be maintained and reviewed monthly by Staff", is clean; I like that. Mr. Borden asked what we do with denied variances and Mrs. Webb reported that they are filed by their address.

Mr. Apke added that Section G, concerning applications and documents being kept in a readily accessible file covers that.

Mr. Borden commented that Section I refers to approved variances with time limitations. Mr. Okum said that I wonder about the phrase "reviewed monthly by Staff". That is sort of us saying that Staff needs to do this, and I don’t think that is our responsibility to tell
Staff anything other than time issues need to be brought to our attention. I don’t think that Staff wants to review every conditional variance every month, because most variances have some conditions. It is the nature of the variance. We approved one tonight. Mrs. Webb added that the Building Department will issue the permit based on the variance granted tonight, and then it will have regular inspections. Mr. Okum said once that process is completed, it is not reexamined unless there is a time limitation, and that is probably the reason she used time as a flag in Section I. Mr. Borden commented that makes sense.

Mr. Okum said I don’t have a problem with the new J. outlining Executive Session.

The board reviewed Guides for Granting Variances.

Mr. Squires said items 1, 2 and 3 are in the BZA applications, and go back to staff. Mr. Okum said the four items she presents here is wording out of the Code. I don’t know that our application reflects the existing wording now. We probably would need it to reflect the exact wording of the Code. Mr. Apke commented we reworded the application to try to make the language easier for an applicant. I think that Anne’s comments in Section A are right, but I think our application is still okay the way we worded it. Mr. Okum agreed.

Mr. Okum said in Section B, she took out the word only and added "the strict application of the zoning code. Variances are not contingent upon any particular person, business, etc. occupying the property but run with the land. Mr. Okum said I think "run with the land" is an accent of why it is; it stays with the land.

Under Section B were the items that I felt were conditional issues in which we may want to be specific. I would defer to Ms. McBride and Mr. Dale to put those items together, but I would submit to them time, buffering of properties and public right of way, the use, and enhancements to the properties that would improve the character. I would suggest something of that nature, so we can be specific in our motion.


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Mr. Okum added that the new Item C, Legal counsel should be obtained from the City Law Director as needed by the Board.

Item D states that "The assistance and advice of the City Planner, the City Engineer, or others may be sought, at the Board’s discretion, pertinent to the design, amenities, relationship to natural surroundings and all other aspects that could affect the variance under consideration." Mr. Okum said I think that is important and the Board should have that latitude.

Mrs. Huber said if the variance goes with the land, why do we say Mr. Joe Smith is granted a variance from Section so and so? We’re giving him the variance, but actually the variance stays with the property. All those people who received variances really didn’t; their properties did. Mr. Borden said that it correct; I don’t know if we need to change that or not. Mr. Okum said their properties got the variances and the applicants requested them. Mr. Borden said as long as we are clear and state that the variance goes with the property, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Mr. Squires said Ms. McBride omitted everything about notifying neighbors within 200 feet. Mr. Apke commented that is the staff’s function and is a part of the process. The procedure is in the code. Mr. Okum said it is not our responsibility.

Mr. Weidlich asked if it had ever been clarified that in the event of a tie vote, the request is denied? There was a question about that at one time. Mr. Borden said it is in Roberts Rules of Order that it is a denial.


Mr. Apke moved to adjourn and Mrs. Huber seconded the motion. All voted aye, and the Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,



__________________,2003 _______________________

David Okum, Chairman



__________________,2003 ________________________

Jane Huber, Secretary