18 DECEMBER 2001

7:00 P.M.


  2. The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m. by Chairman David Okum.

  4. Members Present: Robert Weidlich, Robert Apke, Councilman James Squires, Fred Borden Jane Huber and Chairman Okum.

    Others Present: Bill McErlane, Building Official
    Richard Lohbeck, Inspection Supervisor

    Mr. Okum said let the record show that we are short one member. There is an appointment coming forth from Council. Mr. Wilson’s term on the Board of Zoning Appeals expired at the end of his council term, and they did not have an opportunity to get a replacement nomination so we would have a representative. So a simple majority is required for a motion to pass, or four votes this evening.

  7. Chairman

    Mr. Squires nominated Mr. Okum and Mr. Apke seconded the motion. There were no other nominations, and Mr. Okum was elected by acclamation.

    Vice Chairman

    Mr. Squires nominated Fred Borden and Mr. Weidlich seconded the motion. There were no other nominations, and Mr. Borden was elected by acclamation.


    Mr. Squires nominated Jane Huber and Mr. Borden seconded the motion. There were no other nominations, and Mrs. Huber was elected by acclamation.

  9. Mr. Squires moved to adopt and Mr. Borden seconded the motion. By voice vote, all present voted aye, and the Minutes were adopted with six affirmative votes.

    1. Planning Commission Meeting Minute 13 November 2001
    2. Zoning Bulletin – November 10, 2001
    3. Zoning Bulletin – November 25, 2001
    4. 11/20/01 Letter to Steak N Shake re Variance 21-2001
    5. 11/23/01 Letter to Howard Johnson Inn re tabled request


18 DECEMBER 2001


    1. Report on Council Activities – Jim Squires

Mr. Okum stated that on the Springdale Church of the Nazarene proposed addition and variances needed, I moved to grant the variance last month, but there was no second. The administration has asked to present their point of view on this variance, and my report will consist of what Mr. McErlane will present in the discussion later in the evening. We are very pleased to have Mr. McErlane represent the administration this evening.

Report on Planning Commission – David Okum

Mr. Okum said proposed exterior changes and signs at Hobby Lobby (former HQ) were reviewed. They will upgrade the repaint the outside of their section of the building and the back of the building, clean up the enclosure where the retail/landscape area was, repair the fence and gates. After a lot of discussion representatives of Kravo agreed they would remove the masonry wall on the outside against Tri-County Parkway, remove the landscaping attachments, submit an elevation plan for finish work on that side of the building and turn that area into parking. That is a major improvement on that side of the building. Approval was granted, with some things that still need to be brought before Planning. We considered approval of exterior building elevation changes to Variety Wireless. They came into Planning the previous month with a proposal to put a yellow or golden with black print awning on just their section of the building. They brought back some samples and will be putting an awning on just their section, but will repaint all the red façade to an earthtone, a beige. The awning will be the same basic color with black print on it. They also have volunteered to remove the exiting ground/pole sign, a very positive change, and approval was granted.

We had final plan approval of the Pictoria Corporate sign package, which was approved with some restrictions on two of the signs. These are basically ground mounted signs, identification signs for the entire development. There were a few changes recommended by the planner and we approved it with a couple of items to be brought back before Planning.

Approval of the fascia change, pump island canopy at 11144 Springfield Pike. It is currently the Shell station and is changing to Exxon and they wanted to make their canopy red with reflective lighting and big corner letters that say Exxon cut into the sign. They are going to be back before Planning with a revised plan for that because of the color.

We considered approval of temporary classroom, Springdale Elementary School 350 West Kemper Road. This was tabled at the request of the applicant.

Mr. Borden asked if Hobby Lobby and Cheap Beds and Furniture use the same entrance, and Mr. Okum indicated that they wouldn’t. There is still an entry to the left of Hobby Lobby that could be used for retail space and Cheap Beds and Furniture is gone.


18 DECEMBER 2001


    1. Howard Johnson, Inc. 400 Glensprings Drive requests variance to allow the placement of a temporary banner for the period of November 2001 to March 2002. Said variance is requested from Section 153.533(D) "..shall in no event exceed two consecutive weeks in duration…or four occasions of usage during any calendar year.." (tabled 11/20/01)

There was no one present representing Howard Johnson, and Mr. Squires moved to put this item to the end of the agenda in case they would arrive.

B. Carolyn Peters, 690 Allen Avenue requests variance to allow the construction of a front porch 20’ from the right of way. Said variance is requested from Section 153.580(D) and 153.151(F) "..porch may project six feet into a required front yard…" and "A..two car required.."(tabled 11/20/01)

Gary Smith, representing Mrs. Peters said that the board requested that the architect meet with the City of Springdale, which has happened, and we are going to drop closing in the garage. We will maintain the one-car garage and would not need a variance for that. Mr. Okum said so the only variance you would need is the setback requirement for the front porch.

Mr. Okum said this is a public hearing in progress, and I would ask anyone in the audience who would like to address the board to come forward. No one came forward, and he closed the public hearing.

Mr. McErlane reported that he had talked with Mr. Rabinowitz, the architect. One of the conditions we were talking about in terms of eliminating the garage was the headroom underneath the addition. He assured me that he thought he could get 6’-8" under that. We discussed the front porch, but there was no resolution to anything. The only suggestion I could give him was relative to the garage.

Mr. Okum said seeing that there are no changes to the garage itself, and that it will provide access, they would not be required to have a two-car garage. Mr. McErlane stated that it is a legal non-conforming use as long as it is not changed they are not required to have the two car garage.

Mr. .Borden asked if there would be enough clearance for a car to get into the garage, and Mr. Smith indicated that there would be, adding that when the architect originally had drawn the plans, had to change the size of the closet to maintain the headroom and get the clearance of a car going into the garage. So we did cut that back on the original drawings.

Mr. Okum asked if the existing slab projection was 16 feet, and Mr. Smith answered that it is 8’-10 ˝" projecting from the house toward the street. Mr. Okum said and you will not expand that slab in any way, and you will be placing the railing and cover on top of that space. Mr. Smith confirmed this.


18 DECEMBER 2001



Mr. Okum said the city provided a CAGIS drawing of the house, which shows it 29’ to the property line. Do we know the actual distance to the curb line? Mr. McErlane reported that it is on that drawing; it is 41-1" to the curb. Mr. Okum said so basically we are talking about 12 feet of right of way that runs down Allen Avenue

Mr. Squires said there is a huge tree in that yard; how close will it come to that tree? Mr. Smith answered that the tree is on the right side of the driveway and there are no plans to take any trees out at all. Mr. Squires commented it will come pretty close to it.

Addressing Mr. Squires, Mr. Okum said you are concerned about the awning that will be placed on the right side of the house. Mr. Squires answered yes, the front porch would be 11 ˝’ from the right of way, and I am concerned about how close it will be to that huge tree. Is that an issue at all? Mr. Okum responded that the porch will not be 11 ˝ feet; it will be 20˝ feet back. My point was that we have a 12-foot right of way and he’s on top of an existing slab.

Mr. Borden asked if there would be any overhang that would go beyond the slab and Mr. Smith answered that on the right side we are asking to extend that front porch to keep it in symmetry with the front of the house. So we would be extending over a grassy area about 10 feet.

Mr. Okum asked if there were a reason they did not carry the porch all the way across, and Mr. Smith answered I can’t answer that. I wasn’t in on the planning stage; it was between the architect and Mrs. Peters.

Mr. Okum asked if there would be relandscaping in the front, and Mr. Smith answered that they would.

Mr. Apke said I was going back to the application and on the site plan it shows the existing house being 20 feet from the right of way line instead of 29 feet. Mr. McErlane reported that it is 29 feet to the front of the house; we measured it. What happened is that the 20 feet was close to being at the slab location and not the house location.

Mr. Squires commented that as long as the slab will remain there and you will not extend beyond it, and the right of way has been corrected to 29 feet instead of 20 feet, I would move to grant the variance to allow the construction of the front porch 11’ 1 ˝" from the right of way. Mrs. Huber seconded the motion. Mr. McErlane reported that the actual setback is 20’ 1 ˝". Mr. Squires so amended his motion.

Mr. Apke said since the section we are excepting is allowing porches to project 6 feet into the front yard, shouldn’t the motion be made from that section? Mr. Lohbeck responded that you can either have it six foot projection in to the front yard, or you can do it from right of way; it doesn’t make any difference. Mr. Squires commented that the motion was 20’ 1 ˝" from the right of way.


18 DECEMBER 2001



All present voted aye, and the variance was granted with six affirmative votes.

C. Springdale Church of the Nazarene, 11177 Springfield Pike requests variances for the location of the dumpster, and the rear yard and side yard setback for the parking. Said variances are requested from Section 153.161 "minimum rear yard setback shall be the same as the required rear yard setback for the adjoining district with the most restrictive rear yard setback.", Section 153.489(A) "shall not project into or be located on a front or side yard…", and Section 153.502(C) "In no case shall the parking area be located closer than..20 feet from any residential property line." (Tabled 11/20/01)

Dave Wagner of Environ Group representing the Springdale Church of the Nazarene stated that two of those issues were pretty thoroughly discussed and ready for approval at the last meeting; however we withdrew approval of any of them to come back at the request of the chair to deal with the issue of an agreement with the City. I would defer to Mr. McErlane to present an updated staff report.

Mr. McErlane reported that the Church of the Nazarene approached the City about their expansion plans to see if the City was interested in selling some of the park property to accommodate the setback requirements. At that time, it was my understanding that it was building code issues as well as zoning code issues that were being accommodated by a setback. Over a period of time, the church finalized the actual layout of their proposed development, and after sitting down with the architect and discussing the building code issues, they became a moot point and it was a case of acquiring additional property from the City just to accommodate the setback variances.

When I discussed this with the City Administrator Cecil Osborn, it was his opinion that from the City’s standpoint it would be better for the City to maintain the property and encourage a setback variance to a 0 setback on the west side of the property, because in that way we still would maintain control of the park property. Physically, nothing changes; the building still would be located in its proposed location but the City would lose control of the 55-foot setback to a 0-foot setback.

The only other thing we discussed was the possibility of creating some kind of precedent that the Board might have problems in the future. It was felt that because it is directly adjacent to park property and not someone else who is impacted by it, we could defend the position of granting a 0-foot setback.

Since the last BZA meeting, we also discussed right of entry agreements, not only temporary to accommodate the construction of the building, but also permanently for maintenance purposes. We have sent drafts back and forth between the architect and the administration, and we are fairly close to coming to an agreement.


18 DECEMBER 2001



Mr. McErlane added that we wouldn’t consider signing such an agreement until Planning Commission actually approves the project. It essentially allows them an easement to construct the building, requires restoration of the property and actually plantings as required by Planning Commission, because there are trees that will have to be removed, and we would require replacement replantings because of that.

The fence line is actually three feet into the park from the property line, so there are provisions to tie the fence line into the corners of the building so that we don’t have a fence and then three feet of green area that the city has to maintain on the other side of the fence between there and the building.

As I indicated in last month’s comments, the recreation director expressed no concerns about the actual location or size of the addition relative to the property line.

Mr. Borden asked Mr. McErlane the likelihood of the agreement being executed, and Mr. McErlane answered that since the administration is actually giving support to a 0’ setback, they are receptive to an agreement to allow construction as well as permanent maintenance. Mr. Borden responded so as a board we can assume that the agreement will be carried out. Mr. McErlane answered certainly, and there is still another administrative process that has to occur to even get approval of the project, and that is from Planning Commission. So, there are still things to be worked out overall on the project.

Mr. Squires said as I recall, we settled the issue on the dumpster so the rear and side yard setbacks for the parking were settled. The only thing we are faced with is the 0’ setback on the rear of the building. Is that correct? Mr. McErlane stated we still need a variance for the dumpster being in the side yard since there is no rear yard.

Mr. Okum said so a parking setback variance is still required. Mr. Wagner said we are extending the five-foot line that already existed, but it is five feet instead of the 20 required, so we would need the variance. Mr. McErlane said so there are three variances needed.

Mr. Okum said I jotted down some wording that I think would be appropriate for the motion. Buffer yard conditions shall include construction easements and shall be obtained from the adjoining property owner (City), right of entry agreements, temporary and permanent, shall be obtained, buffer yard and planting improvements shall be approved by Planning Commission at the cost of the applicant, dumpster shall be permitted in the side yard as proposed and parking site plan conditions shall include setback variances as requested. Addressing Mr. McErlane, he asked if that cause any problems? We are not saying what the plantings are; we are saying that they are required and that the expense is the applicant’s and the agreement must be made with the adjoining property owner.


18 DECEMBER 2001



Mr. McErlane responded there shouldn’t be any problem with that; actually our recommendation would be that at the applicant’s expense, the plantings be as approved by the Planning Commission.

Mr. Wagner said these are the details that we specifically have agreed to. The actual agreement on the right of entry and the easements are simply a matter of having properly drafted and executed.

Mr. Okum commented I just want something to tie the variance to the requirement of Planning, because we don’t have a formalized agreement in place. Mr. Wagner said that is acceptable to us. . Mr. Okum responded if that is acceptable to you, it can be included in the motion and be tied all together.

Mr. Borden asked if the agreement could be attached to the variance. Mr. Okum responded you could make that a part of the conditions that the agreement between the adjoining property owners be a part of the variance. Mr. Wagner commented I think that is what Bill was basically saying. The variance was subject to an executed agreement, and that is perfectly fine with us also.

Mr. Squires moved that the Springdale Church of the Nazarene be granted a variance for the construction of their 48,340 s.f. addition 0’ from the rear yard property line, the dumpster be placed in the side yard, and that a parking agreement be made with the adjoining property owner (City of Springdale), and the parking setback be permitted as submitted. Mr. Borden seconded the motion, saying we can go with that and amend it.

Mr. Okum said I would move to add "construction easements shall be obtained from the adjoining property owner; right of way agreements shall be finalized, both temporary and permanent, and proper yard and planting improvements to be approved by Planning Commission at a cost to the applicant." Mr. Borden seconded the amendment, and all present voted aye on the amendment.

On the amended motion, all present voted aye, and the variance was granted with six affirmative votes.

Mr. Wagner questioned the wording relating to the parking portion, in which you referred to something with the adjacent owner. We are simply going to extend that five-yard setback on the north side that Courtney exists. Mr. Okum responded I think the whole board understood that the parking setback is an extension of the existing parking on that north section next to the adjoining property.

On the motion, all present voted aye, and the variance was granted with six affirmative votes.








18 DECEMBER 2001


    1. Revocation of Variance 21-2001, Steak N Shake, 11470 Princeton Pike, to allow construction of a building with a 39.57’ front yard building setback and 18.37’ rear yard building setback. Variance granted 5/15/01 referred back to the board for revocation due to inactivity.
    2. Joe Chambers, Steak N Shake, Indianapolis Indiana said there were economic issues relative to that restaurant that our upper management did not wish to rebuild the restaurant at this time, and we would like to extend the variance for six months.

      Mr. Squires said I was on the board when we granted the variance, and I have no objections to granting a six-month continuance due to the circumstances.

      Addressing the applicant, Mr. Apke said when you say upper management did not want to pursue this at this time, does this mean you are expecting to build in the next six months, or is this an indefinite hiatus.

      Mr. Chambers responded if this were my decision, I could answer that. The only thing I can say is we don’t know. Basically it is an issue with the sales volume of the store not being very high right now. We’ll have to see how it goes, but I would hate to see us go back through the entire process again if in three or four months we are in a position where we feel it makes economic sense to rebuild that store.

      Mrs. Huber said I would like to see them stay there and I would suggest that we give them another six months.

      Mr. Okum commented that typically he doesn’t have a problem with extending a variance for another six months, but I think one of the reasons you were doing the improvement was because you wanted to make the store more appealing. I think this board and Planning Commission were sensitive to that. In simple terms, I don’t think it should be that easy for management to say we’d come back in six months and get another extension. It may not happen; you may not get another extension, and then you will have to go through the whole process again, or end up with a white elephant that is not producing anything for you. If we give six months, this is December and by the time you submit the plans, you would be in the middle of summer and you may lose a building season.

      Mr. Chambers said plans have been submitted and approved; I don’t know if they would have to go back through the process again. Mr. McErlane reported that the Planning Commission approval has expired, and the permit application was deleted because of the inactivity on it. The application can set with pending issues for 60 days. I think we even extended that another two months beyond that, but Planning Commission approval, other than a PUD, expires if there is no permit issued after six months.




      18 DECEMBER 2001



      Mr. Okum said so even if we give the variance, they still have to go back through Planning Commission. Mr. McErlane confirmed this, adding that it may be a case of just revisiting the things that were visited the last time. The idea behind having expirations on it is that things change over a period of time. Mr. Okum commented that building codes change, and Mr. McErlane said it actually changes January 1st. Mr. Okum said so they have to go through a complete update of their review. Mr. McErlane reported possibly. There is a six-month grace period.

      Addressing the applicant, Mr. Okum said if this board was to give you four months, would that be sufficient? I’m sure the upper echelon said get six months on it.

      Mr. Chambers responded we would much prefer a six-month extension as much because of the time frame of the year we are into and because of the weather, when we would like to start construction. March and April is the rainy season. We would like six months if that were the board’s pleasure.

      Mr. Okum said what constitutes action – demolition, reconstruction or the permit application? I would hate to give you six months, and then the applicant would just be getting the final paperwork on the permit, and then have to go through the whole process of Planning Commission approval. Mr. McErlane answered that it is spelled out in the code. "Failure to apply and secure building permits in the applicable building code, the city within 120 days of the date of appearing and endorsement of the Planning Commission". That is the Planning approval. Actually BZA’s is handled in the Rules and Guidelines of BZA, which say "if after six months no construction is done in accordance with the variance."

      Addressing the applicant, Mr. Okum said so if you were given another six months, you would have to go through Planning and go through the Building Department review, and have construction start by May. Mr. Chambers commented I understand May 15th. Mr. McErlane said May 18th would be six months from tonight, or whatever you motion it to be.

      Mr. Squires asked the applicant if he had reasonable expectation that this can be done by May 18th? Mr. Chambers answered that it can be done when the decision is made to go ahead with the project. Like I say that is out of my hands.

      Mr. Squires asked who was in charge of the decision, and Mr. Chambers answered that it would be the president of the company, in Indianapolis.





      18 DECEMBER 2001

      PAGE TEN


      Mr. Borden asked what kind of confidence he had in management making the decision within six months. Mr. Chambers answered that they review it month by month. It has been looked at several times since we first started the project. It is something that we look at and they look at on an ongoing basis.

      Mr. Okum said speaking for myself, I don’t have any problem with one extension on this, but if they don’t get their act together, I would have a problem.

      Mr. Chambers said I don’t think any of us disagree with that. It is an issue of which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Do we improve the building and hope that the people come back, or do we wait until the people start coming back to the facility and it becomes an economically viable project to continue?

      We feel that there are two reasons that the volume is not higher than it is. One is an internal issue of the kind of service we have provided in the recent past and the other is the fact that there have been a lot of businesses that have left the strip center behind the store, and that has had a negative impact on our business

      We have made some major changes in staff, even to the division level which covers the entire southern Ohio area with an effort to try to improve not only the service at that store, but throughout southwestern Ohio.

      I won’t make the decision, so I cannot say with confidence that we will or we won’t be in a position to start within that six-month time frame.

      Mr. Borden asked if the Forest Park Steak N Shake had any impact on the Springdale business and Mr. Chambers answered that it had some, but not a major impact. We feel it probably had more impact on the Colerain store than the Princeton Pike store.

      Mr. Okum said I visited two different Steak N Shake over the past month, and had a good meal and good service. One was in Florence and the other was off Fields Ertel.

      I can’t disagree; the mall has been empty. There is not a lot of development. The theaters are empty, but that is in the process of coming down and there will be a redevelopment there. I would like to see your redevelopment happen in the same time; I would like to see the project go if you are going to do it.

      Mr. Apke said I would like to make a motion to grant a six-month extension on Variance 21-2001, to allow a 39.57 foot front yard building setback, and an 18.37 foot rear yard building setback.


      18 DECEMBER 2001



      Mr. Okum said you might want to add as per the original variance granted 5/15/01.

      All present voted aye, and the variance was extended for six months, until June 18, 2001.

    3. Kerry Ford, 155 West Kemper Road requests variance to allow an oval sign to re place existing rectangular sign. Said variance is requested from Section 153.522(A) "The area of a sign composed of characters or words..shall be the smallest rectangle which encloses the entire group of characters or words."

Patrick Merten said Kerry Ford is not requesting additional square footage for signage at 155 West Kemper. Exhibit A shows the subject property as Item 1 in the center of the page in pink. The Kerry Ford main lot is surrounded by commercial, and the ownership is listed off to the right side.

On Exhibit B, the issue is asking for a variance from the code to allow calculating the signage to consist of the oval that is proposed to replace the existing head on this pole sign. The Ford Motor Company is in the process of updating its signage and symbolism for the company to reflect the ovals, which are the national recognition for the company. In addition, trying to clean up signage on this site, they are proposing that oval sign (Exhibit C) which is 138 s.f. There was a previous variance granted for 438 s.f. The new sign, because of its dimension haws a practical difficulty. It is not a square sign, and they are not asking for more square footage, but the problem is how you calculate that square footage for this pole sign, which is at the corner of West Kemper and Northland Boulevard.

The actual request is to allow Kerry Ford to replace the existing rectangular sign (Exhibit B) with a new sign (Exhibit C). The height would be at or under what is there now. In the existing sign, generally the dimensions are 23’-2" x 6’-1" high. The proposed sign is 19’-11" x 8’ high. The dimension of the sign is being pulled in away from the right of way. It is a more balanced sign. They want to put some new casting around the pole, as well as the new oval sign illustrated in Exhibit B on top of that.

An additional submittal was made to replace wall signs on the building. After conferring with the client, the intention was to resubmit in compliance with the variance that has been requested. So, we have narrowed the issue strictly to this pole sign, to clean it up with a new head.

Mr. Okum commented I sort of think this should have been at Planning Commission. When this came before Planning Commission when Kerry Ford redid their building, and I personally understand that this is a sign and a variance that was granted in 1969. I also cannot say that something approved in 1969 is current for today.


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Mr. Okum added that just because it was a variance approved then, doesn’t necessarily mean it is within our current zoning code. Our code has gone through two or three evolutions since that time, at least. The applicant knows that the sign is a very very important aspect in the city. Merely moving the unit back; it is still a replacement of the existing sign. I don’t think you can ever make change without making some adjustments. If you are looking at the 54-inch wide cladding that they are intending to put on the unit, the 54-inch wide cladding is almost the size of a sign.

Maybe in 1969 the granting of the variance was appropriate, but to allow a 54-inch wide column, almost the width of some ground mounted signs, is pretty massive. We are not talking about a refacing, we are talking about a new sign. Personally I can’t support the height nor can I support their request. Planning Commission has asked this company to lower the sign and bring it down at least three times.

Mr. Merten asked the height that Planning Commission had requested. Mr. Okum responded I can’t recall the exact height, but I do remember the discussion around the sign and Kerry Ford has clearly stated that they have contract requirements with Ford and have held Planning Commission at bay on making changes. I think that the Kerry Ford site is fairly well signed. As a matter of fact there is a pole sign on one section that has a driveway without an entrance that still exists on the property on Northland Boulevard.

I would like to see the sign come down. It certainly doesn’t stay with what is happening with the other signs in the community. Other businesses are learning that you don’t need to be 40 feet in the air to get noticed.

Mr. Okum opened the public hearing. There was no one present in the audience to speak, and he closed the public hearing.

Mr. Squires asked if all Ford agencies were supposed to go to the new oval sign. Mr. Merten confirmed this, addling that it is the national standard. I don’t know how soon they have to do it, but this facility has made it a priority to get it done quickly.

Mr. Lohbeck reported that the applicant proposes to replace the existing rectangular pole sign to an oval shaped sign, and needs a variance from Section 153.522(A) as it pertains to the method of determining sign area for replacement pole sign. Section 153.522(A) states "Gross area of signs shall be measured as the area enclosed by one rectangle, the sides of which make contact with the extreme point or edges of the sign." For the proposed sign, this results in an 8’- 3 ˝" x 19’-11" rectangle, or 165 s.f. There is a variance for the existing rectangular sign at 138 s.f. (Variance 59-1969 granted 6/17/69). The actual area of the oval is approximately 130 s.f. The requested sign is proposed to mount on the existing pole and cladding will cover the existing pole.



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Mr. Okum asked Mr. McErlane if this were a standard used for all signage by businesses? Mr. McErlane answered that it is the standard that the City uses for calculating signs. The only plus would be that if the variance were granted to the method of determining the sign area, it would not grant additional sign area to the applicant. So in the future if there were a sign change, they couldn’t use an increased area in signage. That is the advantage in approaching it in this manner instead of approaching it for additional square footage.

Mr. Okum said the method of determining the sign area is the variance request, and it makes it unique. On the other hand, if we were to take this on its merit, I recall the discussion on Dave & Buster’s round sign and what we held them to. You are establishing a precedent by allowing the altering of the method. Maybe we are only talking about just one parcel, but that same rule could apply to anybody with an oddball shaped sign. Then you end up with two ways of calculating area. I don’t know if staff is planning on that being a future direction.

I can’t disagree with that thinking, because I think the same way. You have to calculate things by how they really are and not a square box. You would end up with 20 different calculations on how much that sign face area is.

Mr. Merten said anything that is not rectangular would have a practical difficulty because the sign will always be smaller. It will have to be smaller because of the calculation that is mandated to calculate signage. I think that is a practical difficulty, because there is deferential treatment on a calculation in terms of what square footage is allowed for anything that is non-rectangular.

Mr. Weidlich asked Mr. Okum about Planning Commission trying to get Kerry Ford to lower the sign. What height were they talking about? Mr. Okum answered I thought it was a monument sign. I clearly recall Mr. Galster bringing it up on at least two occasions. The answer we continually received was that they are required corporate wide under a contract with Ford Motor Company to maintain this sign. There was never any flexibility on their part because of that agreement.

Mr. Weidlich asked if they were required by Ford to maintain the height, and Mr. Okum answered that it was required to maintain that sign. I don’t believe there has ever been a statement concerning the sign height; I think it was that they must maintain that sign. Mr. Weidlich asked if there was a standard that the City has held other businesses to on their pole signs? Mr. Okum answered Target had to keep their sign at 30 feet. There are a number of new developments. What was the height on Walker Pontiac? Mr. McErlane answered it was a relocation of an existing sign that had been across the street, and I believe it was at least 35 feet.



18 DECEMBER 2001



Mr. Okum said and they felt they needed it because they were so far down the street, but here we are talking about a sign right on the corner.

If it weren’t for this variance, it probably would be in Planning Commission’s hands. In my opinion, the base constitutes a major sign change, whether it has the pole inside it or not. Mr. Weidlich commented so you are saying that everybody else is holding it approximately 10 feet lower than what they are proposing here. Mr. Okum asked the current height allowed for pole signs, and Mr. McErlane reported that it was 25 feet.

Mr. Apke said looking at the new logo sign and with the cladding, it seems like it is integrated into the sign. Would the cladding figure into the calculation? Mr. McErlane answered typically a supporting structure on a sign, even on a ground sign, if it doesn’t have copy would not be included as part of the sign area for calculation.

Mr. Borden said if the variance is denied in terms of the way to calculate sign area, would the applicant be able to proceed with the new sign as long as it is within the square footage allowed? Mr. McErlane responded if the applicant came in with a smaller sign that by the rectangle came out to 138 s.f. or less, we would issue a permit for it.

Mr. Squires commented we go by this unique way of getting a gross area of signs. Do we have to go by 165 s.f., or is it 130 s.f., which is the area of the oval and is smaller? Do we need a variance? Mr. Okum responded you need a variance because of the way it is calculated, on the square of the object.

Addressing the applicant, Mr. Okum asked if Ford were prepared to offer an alternative to this. Mr. Merten answered that the alternative to denial would be to come in with a smaller head on the side. The cladding was simply to make it more aesthetically pleasing. The alternative would be to come in with a smaller oval that is calculated by the rectangular method and would be within 138 s.f., and you would have the same pole that is out there. The other alternative would be to table this item and see if there would be a possibility of altering the height of the sign to bring it down. It appears that there is some consent on the board to do so, so it starts to fit in a little better with the character of the area and the goals of the City in terms of signage. If you are a car dealer, you want to be on S.R. 747, where the volume is. You have had some uses that have ended up on Northland Boulevard, and the only way they can get to 747 is to have a sign such as this, to get people over to them. I don’t know that tabling this would offer an alternative positive solution. I don’t see that the company would want to reduce the height of the sign, but in order to work with this board, I am willing to pursue that.

Mr. Squires said when you say company, are you talking about Kerry Ford or the Ford Motor Company in Michigan?


18 DECEMBER 2001



Mr. Merten responded I cannot answer that at this time, but I would approach Kerry Ford my client to see how much discretion they have in altering the height of this, as long as the spirit of the sign is maintained in terms of the cladding and the head on the sign.

Mr. Okum commented what we are hearing is that the applicant is willing to go back to Kerry Ford and discuss the issue. This is the only chance you would have to make a positive improvement on that corner. We are trying to hold other people to the 25 foot standard and I think lowering it would be an improvement. I just purchased a vehicle from Kings Auto Mall, and I didn’t need a 41-foot high sign to find them. This is an opportunity for all of us to work together and bring this to a conclusion.

Personally I don’t have a major objection to the surround being added to it. I think it would enhance the appearance of the sign. It does give it more of a monument look, and I don’t have a problem with that. I do have a problem with a monument that is 41 feet high. If we could work to that point, I think I could field a variance and feel pretty good about it.

Mr. Merten said I think I would have a tough time selling the 25-foot sign. I may be able to work 10 feet into this knowing that there would be some cladding. Does there tend to be support for a height of 30 feet or is the board adamant that it must be 25 feet to be in conformance with the rest of the signs? After all, Kerry Ford is trying to work with the community, and they do have a variance to maintain this size sign. I am just trying to find a common ground.

Addressing the applicant, Mr. Weidlich said to me if you pull the sign down, you could also decrease the size of it to make it more aesthetically appealing. If you lower it, you wouldn’t need that large of a sign because you would not be that far up in the air.

Mr. Borden asked if the applicant were proposing to be open to lowering the sign in addition to changing it?

Mr. Merten responded what I am proposing is to facilitate some dialogue with the Kerry Ford dealership to see if they will lower the sign, provided that there is something in it for them, and that is that they can have a 138 s.f. sign that is calculated based on what we have proposed. Realistically speaking, the dealership has a 41-foot high pole sign. I will have a sales job in terms of making them understand what they are going to benefit without giving too much up.

Mr. Borden commented you are still looking for a variance from our method of computing sign area. Mr. Merten answered at this point I am, as a trade off for working with the height of the sign.




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Mr. Okum said there is a gentleman in the audience who would like to address the board. Are there any objections? There were no objections, and he reopened the public hearing and swore in Robert Wilson.

Mr. Wilson said as a former BZA member, I would say that the pole with the 54-inch claddy is a sign. I want us to be aware that we are dealing with the whole sign, the dimensions of the actual Ford emblem itself and the pole with the claddy on it has the Ford corporate colors, blue and white. I would ask you to give this gentleman some direction in all areas so he is aware that we as a City are looking at this pole and sign as all signage.

Mr. Okum said that is exactly where I was going. I know the base is an integral part of making the appearance of the whole. The support is a part of the sign. In this case, I know we can’t put that into the square footage, because it is the base. If it can enhance the appearance, and is something more than a steel post, it is positive to the overall appearance. I think Mr. Weidlich has a valid point, in that what would become overwhelming if it was brought down. They need to look at what that 20 foot wide emblem would look like at 30 feet and what that 54 inch wide supporting element would look like on there.

I do have a problem with the aspect of the variance being a modification of our calculations, because that is an alternate way of dealing with signage. I think we could end up with it all the time. If that were the case, our code should be rewritten to adapt to that, and then we might as well pay someone to calculate sign square footage. I would like to see it be a monument sign, but I know it’s no good for you, so I can understand that. I would feel more comfortable with the sign being 25 feet rather than the 41 feet. If it comes down to 35 feet, no, but if you come into the 30-foot range that might be okay. If you come down, you might consider that width, as Mr. Weidlich said earlier. I’m not going to tell you which way to go; I think you will need to consider how it looks and where your points of observation would be.

Mr. Borden said I agree with your comments, but I’m still not sure about the heading of the variance of changing the way to calculate sign area. We might have to change that title. The other question I have is, is the cladding illuminated. Mr. Merten answered that it was not.

Mr. Merten said speaking as a member of this board, my perspective is that I would like to see a pole sign that is lower in height, somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 and 30 feet. The sign head on that should be proportional and aesthetically pleasing at the height and not look like it is out of place.






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Mr. Merten continued that speaking as Kerry Ford, I have a variance for a 41 foot sign with a box on top and a steel support there now and a 138 foot box to work with that I could swap out the top of my sign and bring in a new oval sign which could be smaller than this and have a new sign. I am willing to table this for a month and pursue an alternate solution.

Mr. Borden said in terms of giving direction to the applicant, I would rather see the applicant come in and ask for a larger sign than ask for us to vary our method of computing sign area.

Mr. Squires said for the record, that sign is fixed; it does not rotate. Mr. Merten confirmed this.

Mr. Okum commented I am not speaking for you Mr. Borden, and I think I understand what you are saying, but I am hearing the applicant say that they are going to go back and look at the height, in the 25-30 foot range and because they are putting a base on the support, they want it to complement and not look out of proportion with the oval shaped emblem on the top. They are going to exercise that end of it. Your feeling is that, and I have the same concerns, that I would rather see what that number comes out to on square footage when it is done, than address the issue of modifying the way we measure and deal with it that way.

Mr. McErlane, do you get the gist of where the board is going? We are trying to eliminate setting a precedent of how our signs are calculated. Mr. McErlane responded what I am understanding is that you are asking the applicant to go back and take a look at reducing the height and proportionally sizing the sign and cladding to come up with something aesthetically pleasing.

Addressing the applicant, Mr. Okum said as long as it is balanced, I would be more inclined, for this special instance and because you are lowering the sign, to be more flexible than I would if I were looking at a 40+ foot sign that we are dealing with now. I would like to see it work out, and I think we can.

The applicant has requested that we table this. Mr. Borden moved to table and Mr. Weidlich seconded the motion. All present voted aye, and the item was tabled to January 15th.

Going back to the request of Howard Johnson, 400 Glensprings Drive there was still no representation and Mrs. Huber moved to remove this from the agenda and Mr. Squires seconded the motion. Mr. Okum asked Mr. McErlane if there were a problem with that administratively, and Mr. McErlane answered that there is always a question if the applicant doesn’t withdraw the request, whether or not you really should act on it and if you are not in favor of it, to deny it. Mr. Okum said I have no reason to support it and since the applicant has had two opportunities to be here, we could come up with an answer.



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Mrs. Huber withdrew her motion and moved to deny the variance and Mr. Squires seconded the motion. Mr. Okum said for the record, since the applicant has not attended two consecutive meetings to discuss the issue, I see no reason to grant a variance for this request, and therefore I will be supporting the motion to deny. All present voted aye, and the request was denied with six affirmative votes.

  2. Mr. Okum said the Planning and Zoning Workshop is February 1st, and registration needs to be in by January 4th.


Mr. Apke moved to adjourn and Mr. Squires seconded the motion. All present voted aye, and the Board of Zoning Appeals adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,



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David Okum, Chairman



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Jane Huber, Secretary