Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting Minutes
20 February 2007
7:00 p.m.


The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Chairman David Okum.


Members Present:    Bob Weidlich, Bill Reichert, Jim Squires, Jane Huber, Bob Emerson, Marge Harlow and Chairman Okum

Others Present:    Bill McErlane, Building Official
    Randy Campion, Inspection Supervisor


Mr. Squires moved to approve and Mrs. Huber seconded the motion. All voted aye and the Minutes were adopted unanimously.


A. Zoning Bulletin – January 15, 2007


A. Report on Council

Mr. Squires reported that a transitional overlay was added to the zoning on West Sharon Road for the medical arts office building. Council considered the potential use of outdoor wood fire boilers. The Board of Health recommended that Council not allow them and council is considering an ordinance against them. Council approved allowing employees share their sick time with employees with debilitating illnesses. Mrs. Harlow added that an ordinance on the Veterans Memorial will be considered tomorrow night. CDS will begin with Phase 1 and by Council doing this, we hope our residents will see the progress and make more donations.




A. Approval of variance to allow the installation of a total of 360.8 square feet of signage on the front elevation of O’Reilly Auto Parts at 409 West Kemper Road. Said variance is requested from Section153.531 (C) (1) (b) the maximum gross area of signs, and 153.531(D)(1) “A single wall sign shall not exceed 150 square feet in total area.”

Steve Weeks of the sign company said O’Reilly Auto Parts has applied for signage for more than is allowed. You also have something from Bill McErlane that shows another proposal for 193 s.f. for the front elevation.

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Mr. Weeks said I would like to give everybody copies of a slight changed, which is 2.13 square feet larger than the earlier proposal, or 195.13 s.f.

Dick Semple added that the layout for the sign, Exhibit A, is the type of graphics used throughout the United States. Exhibit II shows the whole building and the general area.

Mr. McErlane reported that the pole sign cabinet should be 8’ x 232’ so the square footage on the pole sign would be 92 s.f. instead of 115 It is two feet shorter and each panel will be 23 square feet less.

The building elevations did reflect what the landlord was proposing to do with the building. Planning reviewed this in January and one of the concerns was the amount of red. Ten percent is allowed, and the applicant committed to no more than 8% being red.

The top sheet drawing shows what would be permitted per our code, which is 129 s.f, and now that we have an extra 23 s.f., it would be 152 square feet. The only reason you have the last page was to see what might fit better. It is not a recommendation, but a concept of what would fit in the storefront.

The applicant has submitted something fairly close to that. The sign is a little higher than the 195.13 s.f. total.

Their original proposal included channel letters and what is proposed tonight is a box sign. I assume they are still talking about a red band behind this. Mr. Weeks said I don’t know.

Mr. McErlane said for the wall sign we are looking at a variance from the 150 s.f. permitted to 195 s.f. For the total allowable signage, they would need a variance from the 244 s.f. allowable to 287.1 s.f., including the pole sign.

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

Mr. Squires moved to grant a variance from 150 to 195 s.f. for the wall sign and from 244 to 287.1 s.f. for the total signage for O’Reilly Auto Parts.

Mr. Okum said Planning was clear about the saturation of red on the building, and stated that the 10% red allowed should be across the building. Staff can deal with the red on the building separately from the signage issue.

Mr. Okum said Planning encourages channel lit signage in the Route 4 Corridor Review District, and they are looking at box signs rather than the channel letters. ..

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Mr. Squires commented that to keep this area uniform, we would have to allow something similar to any future tenants. Mr. Okum commented that is something to consider. So if we approve the box signs we would be encouraging box signs for the other tenants. In my experience on Planning, I would say it has been Planning’s purpose to encourage channel lit letters. The Auto Parts sign on Exhibit I could be channel lit but the O’Reilly logo would be more difficult.

Mr. Semple said White Castle has a box type sign, so the precedent has been set on Springfield Pike. Mr. Weeks added that auto parts could be done with channel lit letters but the O’Reilly sign would be more difficult and the owner wants the same look across the United States with that logo for recognition.

Mr. Semple added also I don’t think it would become a standard for that shopping center. If there are more than two tenants they may not necessarily take that route. It is just a case of graphics. And making the sign the best it can be made.

Mr. Okum added that the Corridor Review District encourages consistency on the signage, so I would think the other businesses would b encouraged to do boxes for that consistency. There are no box signs at the Springdale Town Center. If the box is approved, I would encourage those two uses to do box signs to be consistent.
Mr. Weeks said it is more of a logo model than a box sign. This is more than a box sign. There is a great expense to make it this shape.

Mr. Okum commented that the O’Reilly is a unique logo box, and I would think that would be appropriate for O’Reilly. I was thinking that the auto parts could be channel lit.

Mr. Weeks said the owners said if we had to go to channel letters, they would like to drop the stripes. Several of the board members indicated that they liked the stripes, and Mr. Weeks responded that he would put the stripes back in.

Mr. Okum said I think the applicant is willing to work with us, and the stripes are necessary. Do the auto parts in channel lit letters and the O’Reilly in the custom box logo and it would work very nicely and be balanced between the pilasters.

Mr. Okum said I think the board is ready to allow this 195.1 s.f. provided that the O’Reilly logo stays the way it has been submitted and that the Auto Parts become channel lit letters, as long as the total does not exceed 195.1 square feet A motion is needed to amend the Auto Parts sign to channel lit letters with the stripes. O’Reilly would remain as submitted.

Mr. Squires moved to amend the variance to a total of 195.1 s.f. with channel lit letters for Auto Parts and the O’Reilly logo as submitted. Mr. Reichert seconded the motion. By voice vote, all voted for the amendment. On the amended motion, all voted aye and the variance was granted unanimously.

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A. Revised Board of Zoning Appeals Application – continued from January meeting

Mr. Okum led the review of the application with his suggested additions.

Number 1 – Provide photos and evidence supporting your request.

Number 2 - Provide detailed information as it pertains to your request. Illustrations, drawings sketches, literature or what every evidence represents the request.

Number 3 – Be prepared to give testimony and present the facts at the zoning appeals hearing. It is from this testimony, the testimony of others present and the evidence presented that a decision will be made.

Mr. Okum said I want them to be aware that it is necessary to give testimony.

Number 4 – The preponderance of evidence supporting the variance will determine whether the variance will be granted or denied.

Mr. Okum said the difficulty is that not what was approved as our Guidelines. On Page 3, it states, “The Board of Zoning Appeals may authorize a variance of the provisions or requirements of the Zoning Code provided all of the following facts and conditions exist:

1. Exceptional circumstances

Where, by reason of the exceptional narrowness, shallowness or unusual shape of a specific piece of property on the effective date of this Code, or by reason of exceptional topographic conditions, or other extraordinary situation or condition of such pieces of property, or of the use or development of property immediately adjoining the piece of property in question, there are exceptional or extraordinary circumstances or conditions applying to the property in question or to the intended use of the property that do not apply generally to other properties or classes or uses on the same zoning district.

2. Preservation of property rights

That such variance is necessary for the preservation and enjoyment of substantial property rights which are possessed by other properties in the same zoning district in the same vicinity.

3. Absence of detriment

That the authorizing of such variances will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property, and will not materially impair the purposes of this Code of the public interest.
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4. Not of general nature

That the condition of situation of the subject property, or the intended use of the property for which variance is sought, is not of so general or recurrent a nature as to make reasonably practical the formulation of general regulations for such conditions or situations.

Mr. Okum added that is what was approved, and it is very difficult. I feel a preponderance of evidence would give me reason to give a variance. If we followed all the Guides for Granting Variances, we should be voting no 90% of the time. If we are supposed to be following it, it is hard. Mrs. Huber added most of the time you cannot do it.

Mr. McErlane said the guidelines were adopted by this board, but they reiterate some of the things in the Zoning Code. For example,

Section 153.710(B) “No such variance of the provisions or requirements of this chapter shall be authorized by the Board of Zoning Appeals unless the Board of Zoning Appeals finds that ALL of the following facts and conditions exist:

and the four conditions are listed.

Mr. McErlane added the intent of this board is that there are situations where everything does not fit into that, so you can look at exceptional circumstances that pertain to a property, like topography and see the condition that merits the variance. That is the intent of this board.

Number two of that same section concerns if there is a circumstance on the property that keeps you from doing something that everybody else can do, like an angular back property line. If for that reason you are being prohibited from doing something, that is another reason to grant a variance.

Number three says that variances should not do anything that would be detrimental to your neighbors.

Number four indicates that if there are enough people doing it, it should be put in the code instead of having to grant so many variances.

Mr. Okum said we have zoning districts with large lots which is not the norm. If we cannot get these issues resolved, will we assume it has to be the preponderance of evidence that supercedes this? Is that the purpose? Maybe that is an issue for our Council representatives that make these appointments. They should resolve what they want us to be doing. That is why I am asking the question.

Mr. Okum said if the applicant does not answer these points, he will not get the variance. Is that what Council wants us to go by, or is it the preponderance of evidence?

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Mrs. Harlow said I can only speak for myself, but the law director said that because everybody does not have the same square footage or topography, that is why this board is there. It is to help the residents who cannot meet the code, to offer them relief if it is in the best interests of the city to do so.

Mr. Squires added he also informed us that everything we deal with is unique, that we do not have to worry about precedent, and I think that is extremely important. Everyone coming before us is unique.

Mr. McErlane suggested some simple wording and a change in that section of the Zoning Code. Right now it says “No such variance of the provisions or requirements of this chapter shall be authorized by the Board of Zoning Appeals unless the Board of Zoning Appeals finds that ALL…exist.” If we would change that ALL to “CONSIDER”. That way instead of it being mandatory, it is a guideline. Mr. Okum agreed with this, confirming with the rest of the board members that they also agreed.

Going back to the review of Mr. Okum’s suggestions for the application, the addition was “Failure to appear at two consecutive meetings will constitute failure to present supporting evidence and action will be taken.

Mr. McErlane reported that you cannot withdraw the application; you either act on it or request that the applicant withdraw it. Now it says that it could result in tabling or a decision being made. Many times if the applicant doesn’t show, it would give them another month before they had to comply with code. Mr. McErlane stated that normally the prosecutor would suggest no legal action if the person has a pending appeal before the Board of Zoning Appeals.
Mr. Okum added we can only vote to approve or deny; we cannot withdraw an item.

Item #6 added to the application was an application number. Mr. McErlane suggested that it be tied to the variance number.

Number 7 – 10 copies of detailed drawings – Mr. Okum said he felt that 10 copies were not needed for the residents. Mr. McErlane said I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for drawings. This is what we need to determine what they want to do. On the plot plan, Mr. Emerson commented that people assume that their fence is on their property line, and that isn’t always true. Mr. McErlane stated they can add that to the site plan, and we can pull up CAGIS data to confirm it. Also, if the applicant comes in advance to discuss this project, we can provide them with the CAGIS information.

Mr. McErlane reported I put the requirement for pictures back here where the submission requirements are.

On the checklist, I added to 3.1 Plot Plan, Item F. “Indicate setback distances if that is what you are requesting.” I also added a 3.4 Provide photographs and any other support information like brochures.

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Mr. McErlane added in the questionnaire, I added a whole block for them to describe their reasons that they need the variance. I tried to rephrase the questions so that they would make more sense.

Mr. Okum said I don’t think we should give them an opportunity to just say yes or no. I would leave that out and say “Explain in Detail”. Mr. McErlane said we are asking a question and the answer would be yes or no. It is an issue with the topography, not the Zoning District. Mrs. Harlow asked if the same would be true with the size of the lot. Mr. McErlane responded the properties on Kemper Road are the same district but in many cases the lot sizes are different. Mr. Okum added and it still doesn’t address the uniqueness of the lot. Mr. McErlane reported that the oversize lots should be addressed in the Zoning Code.

Mr. Okum added I don’t like a question. Let’s change the question to a statement. Explain in detail what unusual characteristics of your property make it impractical for you to complete your project.

On the current number 3 concerning if the variance would negatively affect the adjacent properties, Mrs. Harlow wondered if that is something that the applicant would know. Mr. McErlane commented I don’t know that how important it is to be in there. Mrs. Harlow responded that is something the board should consider.

Mr. McErlane said I will draft a revision to Section 153.710 (B) that you could forward to Planning Commission. It would go on to City Council and after Council adopted it, you would have to adjust your Guidelines. I will redraft it based on what we talked about tonight.

Mr. Okum said the other item was lot sizes and outbuildings, but it is 9:00 p.m. and I don’t want to go into it now. Members indicate that restrictions based on Zoning Districts for large and unique sized lots don’t always apply, like Kemper Road. You need to look at lot sizes and density and come up with realistic standards. The other item is fences in front yards and corner lot issues.


Mr. Squires moved to adjourn and Mrs.Huber seconded the motion. By voice vote all voted aye, and the Board of zoning Appeals adjourned at 9:00 p.m.

                    Respectfully submitted,

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                    David Okum, Chairman

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                    Jane Huber, Secretary