MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS,
TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2011
6:30 P.M., IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS, CITY HALL,
1. ROLL CALL
PRESENT: Board Members - Green, Higgins, Lichtenwald, Pnacek and Steele
ABSENT: Board Members – None
OTHERS PRESENT: Cindy Winland, Consulting Planner, Cheri King, Community Development Specialist and 5 others.
2. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
It was moved by Steele and supported by Lichtenwald to approve the minutes of the September 21, 2010 meeting. Mr. Steele stated that, on page 3 of the minutes, it should reflect that his lot is 45’ wide, not 145’ wide. Motion was unanimously approved.
3. PUBLIC HEARINGS
The Chairman explained the public hearing procedures and how the Board decides if the variance request is approved based on the five Zoning Ordinance criteria. Mr. Green reinforced that the variance goes with the property and not with the property owner.
a. No. 11-01 – Barrett Sign Company, on behalf of Dow Kokam, for a dimensional variance to permit additional square footage of wall signage. The applicant is asking for a variance of 1,256.50 square feet to the 300 square feet of wall signage that is permitted in the IA – Industrial district. The property is located at 2700 South Saginaw Road.
Mrs. Winland showed an aerial photograph of the subject property. It is located at 2700 S. Saginaw Road. It is just outside the Dow fence line. The roads around the parcel are Saginaw Road on the east, Discovery Way on the north and Bay City Road on the south. The request is for an additional 1,256.50 sq. ft. of signage to go on the wall structure. Some of the signage would go on the south wall and some would go on the east wall. The Zoning Ordinance permits 300 square feet of wall signage. There is the latitude to divide that wall signage up. The each sign would be 778.25 square feet if the proposed 1,256.50 sq. ft. of signage is allowed.
There is also a ground mounted sign of 150 square feet proposed. This is within the boundaries of the ordinance. Ms. Winland does not know exactly where that signage will be placed.
Ms. Winland reviewed the staff report. On the first criteria, the petitioner states that the battery park building is very large and the variance would allow the signage to be visible and in proportion to the building. Staff states that the sign area will not prevent the property owner from using the property for a permitted purpose. Looking at the second criteria, doing “substantial justice” is satisfying a standard of fairness for everyone impacted. In this case, the area is heavily industrial in nature with the exception of a restaurant across Saginaw Road on the east side. The larger than permitted sign would not change the character of the neighborhood.
Is this the minimum variance needed to provide substantial relief to the applicant? Staff comments state the purpose of signage on the building is to identify the use of the structure with words and branding for employees, contractors and deliveries. There is a planned ground mounted sign, 150 square feet in area, at the entrance on the south side of the building. The building is very large. However, the circumstances are due to the size of the structure and the desire for a sign that is proportional to the wall on which it is mounted, as opposed to the property itself.
Staff thinks there is value in designing signage in proportion to the face of the structure to achieve better aesthetics for the users and the public on an otherwise unembellished, large gray wall, as well as improve the function of the sign by increasing visibility from US-10 for greater distance. Regarding being self-created, the petitioner states that the building signage was designed to be proportional to the large building and any visibility issues. Staff contends that the request is a desire of the applicant.
Mark Slater, 1908 Trailwood Circle, Midland, Michigan, represented the petitioner. Mr. Slater stated the size of the building causes the need for the additional signage. There are currently two banners up and they are 8’ x 30’.
Brian Grady, 719 N. Water Street, Bay City. The Dow Kokam banner is 8’ x 30’. The other banner is somewhat smaller. He is with Clayco, the designer of the building.
Mr. Slater stated his second point is that the logo causes them to need the additional square feet for the signage. The lightening bolt is a big part of their logo. The letters on the sign are smaller than the lightening bolt. Mr. Pnacek asked what the size of the building was. Mr. Slater said it is about 10 acres, or 460,000 square feet.
Mr. Higgins asked if they could make the lightening bolt smaller, in relationship to the letters. Mr. Slater stated the lightening bolt is an important factor in their branding. Mr. Higgins asked what is the smallest sign they are willing to accept. Mr. Slater stated that certainly, if they were not granted this variance, they would have to come back with something smaller. Mr. Slater stated the south side is the main entrance to the building so there is a need on that side of the building for adequate signage. Mr. Higgins stated that the lightening bolt is what seems to be the problem in the amount of signage they are asking for.
Mr. Steele asked if there will be ground directional signs. Mr. Slater stated they had not thought about that. Those would be very small traffic signs. One of the uses they will have there will be a gallery. This will be a meeting place, a place where they can show off their product, and where they can have visitors come view their products.
Mr. Green asked Mr. Slater if he would like the Board to continue their deliberations tonight or if they would like to have it tabled and come back next month asking for less signage.
Steve Jordan, 321 Lyon Street, Saginaw, Michigan, is from the sign company. Mr. Jordan stated that this building is about the size of a football field. When you are viewing the building from the north, you have at least 3,000 ft. of distance. From the south, you have at least 2,000 feet from the road to the building. Mr. Jordan showed the monument sign that will be placed on the south side of the building. It will be lighted. It will be very attractive. Mr. Jordan feels that, as you are coming down the road, you will not see the small monument sign with the huge building in the background. The whole east side of the property has a tree line. The trees extend all the way across the east side of the property. There will not be a need for signage on the east side of the building. Midland is the only community in the State of Michigan that “boxes” signage. Typically, they are used to just measuring the signage. The Dow Kokam letters will be pretty narrow. It’s the lightening bolt that is causing the sign to have to be so large. The letters will be black, LED letters. They will be “halo” lit, from behind. The black letters will be on a gray background. US-10 traffic is 3,000 feet away. Bay City Road on the south side that is 2,000 feet away. There is nothing else that is going to be built in this area in the next year that will request similar signage. The proposed lightening bolt is going to be 18 feet high. The letters will be four feet six inches tall. They feel they need to be consistent with the proportions of the signage between the monument sign and the signage on the building.
Mr. Jordan feels the proposed signage is aesthetically pleasing on this building. The lightening bolt is approximately 80 square feet. How far apart do the signs have to be to be considered three separate signs? Staff stated they are limited to 300 square feet of signage. The petitioner can use that in as many signs as they want. Mr. Lichtenwald asked if it would be a problem to put the sign into three parts. Mr. Jordan stated that would be up to the Marketing Department for Dow Kokam.
No one spoke either in favor of or in opposition to this request. Mr. Green gave the petitioner the opportunity to table the request at this time and come back at the April 19, 2011 Zoning Board of Appeals meeting. The cut-off for submitting materials for the April 19th meeting is March 25th. If a decision is made tonight, and the variance is denied, they would have to come back with something else next month. If they go with the option of continuing, they could come back with the same proposal they have now in April. There is no pressure to do either one.
Mr. Slater stated that he thinks the choice he would make is to suspend deliberations at this time and come back at the April meeting.
Motion by Higgins, seconded by Steele, to table Case No. 11-01 until the April 19th meeting. Motion passed unanimously.
4. PUBLIC COMMENTS (not related to items on the agenda)
5. OLD BUSINESS
6. NEW BUSINESS
7. DECISION SHEET SIGNATURES
Hearing no further business, the Chairman adjourned the meeting at 7:23 p.m.
Cynthia E. Winland, AICP