1.      ROLL CALL.

PRESENT:  Board Members -  Sutton, Lichtenwald, Higgins, Holthof                                                    and Siemer

ABSENT:  Board Members -     Green

OTHERS PRESENT:      Daryl Poprave, City Planner; Cheri Standfest,                                       Community Development Specialist and 3                                                   others



It was moved by Sutton and supported by Higgins to approve the minutes of the October 18, 2005 meeting as presented.  Motion was unanimously approved.


Next, the Chairman explained the public hearing procedures that the ZBA would employ to reach a decision on the following variance.




No. 05-19 - Starbucks for an area/dimension variance to permit more than one wall sign for informational purposes at 7201 Eastman Avenue.


Mr. Poprave showed a location map.  The subject property is located on the west side of Eastman Avenue, north of the Arby’s Restaurant.  The property is zoned RC - Regional Commercial.  The aerial photo showed this site is adjacent to Jacobs Drain, and the Midland County Fairground’s property is to the north.  The subject site shows a strip mall that is situated north to south.  Starbucks is the southernmost business.  On the adjacent site, there is currently a restaurant being built.  The site plan shows seventy parking spaces.  Construction pictures show the drive-thru side or the south side of the building, and the east side of the building.  Two of the proposed signs will be erected on the east side of the building and two signs will be erected on the south side of the building.  Article 8.04 of the Zoning Ordinance pertains to this request.  It states that a directional sign is exempt from the sign regulations if it is less than 6 feet in size.  However, both directional signs exceed 6 sq. ft.  Therefore, these are not exempt signs and they must comply with the Zoning Ordinance.  Table 8.2 in the Zoning Ordinance states that in a Regional Commercial zoning district, each tenant is allowed one wall sign, for a maximum of 150 feet of wall signage for the entire building.  Footnote “j” allows businesses that have more than 50 feet of frontage on a road to get extra signage.  This building has approximately 212 feet on Eastman Avenue.  They are allowed to have 300 sq. ft. of signage, but this would be for the entire strip mall.  In addition, they have 124 sq. ft. of ground signage, based upon the number of tenants in the strip mall. 


Staff recommends approval of the variance, so long as the signs, in aggregate, do not exceed the maximum allowable square footage.  In the packet, the property owner has listed how each business will be allocated signage, based upon the proposed number of tenants (See Attachment #5).  There are unique circumstances, such as the drive-thru.  You must traverse all the way around the building to get to the drive-thru.  They have not asked for any directional signs in the median strip on the north side of the building.  These directional signs will be wall-mounted. 


Higgins asked for the specific locations of these signs.  They will be located on the east side of the building and on the south side. The signs consist of the name of the business (Starbucks Coffee), the logo, and the two drive-thru signs.  These signs are all back lit.  They are using these signs to make known to the public that they do have a drive-thru. 


The petitioner was not present. 


No one spoke in favor of or in opposition to this request.


No communications were received either in favor of or in opposition to this request.


The Chairman closed the public hearing and asked the Board if they wished to enter into findings of fact:


Sutton proposed the following findings of fact.


Findings of Fact:

  1. The property is zoned RC (Regional Commercial)
  2. The property is located on the west side of Eastman Avenue
  3. There were no communications.
  4. Speed limit is 45 mph on Eastman Avenue
  5. Development is a strip mall with seven tenants.
  6. The strip mall development is permitted a total of 300 sq. ft. of total wall signage.
  7. The property owner has allocated that signage as shown in Attachment # 5, for all seven tenants.  Starbucks has been allocated 64 sq. ft. of the total 300 sq. ft wall signage allowed.
  8. Starbucks is to be located in the south corner end of the building, furthest from the entrance off Eastman Avenue.
  9. The drive-thru is located on the far side of the building, on the south side.
  10. Starbucks is requesting four, wall-mounted signs, not exceeding 64 sq. ft. in area.
  11. The building is greater than 100 feet from the front property line. 


It is moved by Holthof and supported by Sutton to approve Petition No. 05-19, based on the findings of fact, for four wall signs, not to exceed  64 sq. ft. in area. 


Holthof stated he is comfortable with the idea that the variance is the minimum needed to provide substantial relief.  There seems to be good visibility for what is going to be there.  He is having trouble with criteria “d” and “e”.  He knows that staff will be bringing some modifications of the Zoning Ordinance to the Planning Commission and he is not comfortable approving all these sign variances.  Strict compliance and substantial justice are also issues he is not clear with.


Higgins stated that Starbucks needs a sign on the south side since they are on a corner.  He shares Hank’s concern that we are granting a lot of variances for multiple signs.  How many signs are reasonable, he is not sure.  This could easily be two signs instead of four.  He agrees with Hank.  However, he feels in this case that 4 signs are a reasonable request.


Siemer feels this is a reasonable request due to the setback of this property and the speed on Eastman Avenue.  He feels this is reasonable.


Sutton agrees with Jack and Hank.  It does not matter much about the approaching traffic.  This strip mall will be easily seen either coming from the north or from the south.  We have heard several times that if an issue comes before the Zoning Board multiple times, this issue needs to be dealt with by the Planning Commission and the City Council.  She does not have any problem granting multiple signs, but she does think this could be done with three signs instead of four.  She has no problem granting this.


Lichtenwald is very comfortable with this request.  He feels they meet all the criteria.


Voting in support of the motion:

Higgins:  Yes

Sutton:  Yes

Lichtenwald:  Yes

Holthof:  No

Siemer:  Yes


The motion passes 4-1.  The variance for Petition 05-19 is granted.


4.                  PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)






      Shirlene’s Restaurant – sign update


      a. The sign inspector spoke with the owners of Shirlene’s Restaurant.      

      The old sign will be coming down.  They have hired a contractor and work   

       is ongoing.


  1. King’s Daughters’ sign is up.  They have had some foundation 

problems and they have had problems with the lighting.  The old sign is not down yet.


      c.  There was a Midland Circuit Court hearing before Judge Ludington, on

      November 9th regarding the Dollar Daze’s case.  They will proceed with  

      the trial in early January.





      a. We have two cases for December 20th.  One is for multiple signs and 

      one is for a parking setback requirement in the  Office Services area. 


      b. The Planning Commission has set a public hearing for the Zoning

      Ordinance revisions, to be held on December 13th.  The majority of these

      will be revisions to the sign section.  The tables are quite hard to

      understand, as are the footnotes.  Staff is recommending multiple signs, so

      long as they do not exceed the square footage listed on the table. 





      There were no corrections to the decision sheet’s findings of fact.




The Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:25 p.m.



Respectfully submitted,



Daryl Poprave

City Planner