PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
October 11, 2011
I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER
The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by Chairman Don Darby.
II. ROLL CALL
Members Present: Tom Vanover, Marge Boice, David Okum, Steve Galster, Richard Bauer, Carolyn Ghantous, and Don Darby
Others Present: Don Shvegzda, City Engineer; Anne McBride, City Planner; William McErlane, Building Official
III. MINUTES OF THE REGULAR MEETING OF SEPTEMBER 13, 2011
Chairman Darby: I will accept a motion to accept the minutes of the September 13, 2011 Planning Commission meeting.
(Mr. Okum moved to accept the minutes of September 13, 2011 Planning Commission Meeting; Mrs. Boice seconded the motion and with 7 aye votes the minutes were accepted.)
IV. REPORT ON COUNCIL
Chairman Darby: There is no correspondence to report.
VI. OLD BUSINESS
Chairman Darby: There is no Old Business to present.
VII. NEW BUSINESS
A. Chairman Darby: Item A is a request for variance to the Tree Preservation Ordinance, Cassinelli Square Property at 333 East Kemper Road.
Mr. McErlane: We received an email from the applicant yesterday, there were two individuals that were going to be at this meeting and they have had scheduling problems. They have asked if this could be tabled until the November Meeting.
Mr. Okum: I move to table.
(Mr. Galster seconded the motion, and with a unanimous affirmative vote from the Planning Commission Members, the item was tabled until the November 2011 Planning Commission Meeting.)
B. Chairman Darby: The next item tonight is minor improvements requiring Planning Commission Approval for a Nationwide Insurance Wall Sign at 11497 Springfield Pike.
Ms. Debbie Napier-Rueger: I am a Nationwide Insurance Agent. My business has been in Springdale since June of 1992 on Glensprings Drive in the Glensprings Professional Building. Due to the lack of maintenance and care of the building, I decided to move the office to 11497 Springfield Pike. Little did I know how much trouble my clients would have finding me and that has been a huge issue because of the lack of signage and the very small signs that are allowed. The landlord told me that whatever Springdale would let me do, I can go for it. I am here for direction or to see about any type of signage for the office.
(At this time Mr. McErlane and Ms. McBride read their comments.)
Chairman Darby: For clarity, it is suggested that perhaps the owner present to us a schematic of what could exist there as far as other tenants requesting sign space on the building.
Ms. McBride: That is correct. Mr. McErlane provided the Commission with a photograph of the existing ground mounted sign that is there which is a wire mesh with panels plugged up onto it. Because of that and the volume of traffic and so forth on Springfield Pike it is difficult to read some of the tenant signs. We want the businesses to be successful but they are destination oriented businesses and it probably is not a stop that you make every week at your insurance agent. Perhaps it might be more beneficial to rework that sign to provide better identification for the tenants.
Ms. Napier-Rueger: So, the way I understand, it is pretty much up to the landlord to design and get approval on a whole new sign for the whole building and I pretty much should stop my request to put something on the building; he needs to rework what is on ground level?
Chairman Darby: That is an approach that is being suggested by Staff and since it would involve all tenants ultimately it would be the owner that would come forward with that type of plan.
Mr. Galster: I dont think that you have to count on the landlord to do anything because it is really your desire that is driving it. Because of regulations on just sign packages in general, there is going to be an issue with trying to locate a sign on that particular building. On top of that you are in the Corridor Review District and that puts even tighter standards on how that sign should appear because we want it to have a very residential nature in appearance. We need to have a ground mounted sign that is more up to date that would provide you with better visibility. You may be able to share costs with the other tenants and the landlord and still meet the requirements of the Corridor Review District and the sign legislation in general.
The sign that is out there is 5 X 7; is that correct?
Mr. McErlane: The mesh area is 5 and the width is 7; the height is probably close to the 7 maximum that the code permits.
Mr. Galster: Based on this, is there a standard that would say that this monument sign should be no bigger than X?
Mr. McErlane: If you are limited to the 7 in height, then my guess is there is a limited amount of room that you could put that.
Mr. Galster: Yes, you would get back in the bushes pretty quick. And, right now in the Corridor, 7 is the maximum of monument signs?
Mr. McErlane: Correct.
Mr. Galster: Maybe it is a matter of getting with the sign company to come up with a way to get better visibility on that front sign; maybe it is color panels but just larger. I think you could initiate it and then bring it to the landlord and tell him the cost; I think that you would be remiss in counting on your landlord to try to get something that you are trying to obtain which is more visibility and more identification for your business. We appreciate that your business is located in Springdale and we will try to work with you on coming up with something. But based upon the drawings and the renderings that I have seen for what your original request was for, I would have a hard time supporting that because it is so far outside of what the normal would be in the Corridor Review.
Mr. Okum: Is there a significant percentage of this building that you are occupying?
Ms. Napier-Rueger: We are all equal in size.
Mr. Okum: A lot of the tenants are doctors and dentists; and that is pretty much been the history of that building. The sister building did a new monument sign; ultimately what he built and put there met the code and I think it is very attractive and very complimentary to that building. In your building you have eight occupants, so it is shared space. I tend to agree with Mr. Galster; if you did the sign on the side of the building we would ultimately end up with sign blight and we obviously do not want to see that. I think something more dynamic would be beneficial but you dont want it to look like a checker-board. I probably would not support the sign presentation that you are requesting tonight.
Mr. Galster: We have an option, if you were wanting to come back with a proposal once you talk to the landlord and the other tenants and modify that request, we could table the request, or we could vote on it. We need to have some action on the request that you made.
Mr. Okum: Or you could withdraw and resubmit. And since this will be a totally different thing it would probably be better; I would recommend that to you, but that is your decision.
Ms. Napier-Rueger: That is what I think I should do.
Mr. Galster: I make a motion to withdraw the applicants request for the Nationwide Insurance Sign at 11497 Springfield Pike.
(Mr. Okum seconded the motion and with a unanimous aye vote from the Planning Commission Members the request to withdraw the sign request was accepted.)
C. Chairman Darby: Minor Improvements Requiring Planning Commission Approval, Cincy Mattress, 11750 Commons Drive.
Mr. Ken Paul: I am the President and one of the owners of Front Room Furnishings and property owner. I was one of the owners of Sofa Express; we owned the real estate and sold that company and retained that real estate when they went through the bankruptcy and that left us with a dark building for the better part of two years. We have opened Front Room Furnishings, which is a living room and family room specialist, in that building about a year ago. Our goal was to find another tenant for the additional space, the space that we are not using now is anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 s.f., some of which is pre-finished office and some of which was showroom space of the previous tenant. It is our goal now through the Cincy Mattress concept to utilize that additional 5,000 s.f. as a mattress specialty store. Serta is a Cincinnati company and has been for over a century; it is made right here in Cincinnati for Cincinnati and hopefully that is what our brand name Cincy Mattress brings to the table.
(Mr. Frank Swanek, Vice President of Sales for Serta Mattress came forward and gave the Planning Commission Members a presentation of the history of the Serta Mattress Company.)
Mr. Frank Swanek: I think we have a unique concept and it could be a unique draw to the community. I hope you will approve the concept.
Mr. Paul: Our goal behind Cincy Mattress is obviously to increase our sales volume and hopefully increase our profitability out of that location. We hope by having a different concept we can bring more shoppers into that area. One of the best thing that locations offers is 120,000 automobiles that drive by on a daily basis on I-275 and that is one of the reasons that we think we need a substantial sign to make sure those customers understand we are there. This is a new concept, so getting the word out and the brand out in the market place is paramount to our success. The additional advertising that the signage can bring us will be very important and it will also give an exposure on the north side of that building. It is not uncommon for people to think that we have closed up because all of our main entrance to the Front Room Furnishings is on the south side of the building as you come down off of Kemper and the north side of the building really sits without many automobiles. We have attempted to have employees park their automobiles there, but they have run into some vandalizing issues in that area. We are hoping to try to create an excitement and a presence on the north side of our building as well as improve that security by having staff and people in that building. This will result in additional staff; we are considering that a separate store so it will have its own delivery personnel, its own sales personnel and its own officer personnel and it will result in additional jobs at that location.
The reason the sign is the size that it is, is because we did this on the recommendation of our sign company. Last year there was a lot of conversation about the column or I bar that was left on the building from Sofa Expresss main signage; it was the request of the Commission at that time to do anything we can to disguise that column. There was talk of removing it at a pretty great expense and I think we came back and proposed some graphic panels and essentially we got the Commissions approval to leave it in place for our future tenant. That column is 50 in length as it exists today and in order to hide it completely we are proposing a background to our new sign. Even with the new signage, the existing Front Room signage that is on the building and this new proposed sign, we are still less in total square footage than what the previous tenant, Sofa Express and More had on the building.
(At this time Mr. McErlane and Ms. McBride read their staff reports.)
Mr. Paul: There is a sign on the south side of the building that says Front Room on it and my understanding is that construction of this sign is to mirror that; white background and individually channeled letters, white LED behind the Mattress and red LED behind the Cincy.
Mr. McErlane: So, they are a channel letter with LED lights behind a red lens?
Mr. Paul: Yes. That is what I think; obviously our sign person couldnt make it this evening; that is what I believe it to be. I dont have a good picture of the Front Room sign that is on the south side of the building. The one thing I do want to point out is if you are looking at the same drawing that I have, I think was submitted by our sign company; that is hardly the true proportions of that building and it may be misleading to the point that she is sort of showing this column underneath the sign and that is not actually the column, that is the awning. The column will be completely hidden and it is 50 and will match the background of the sign. The drawing shows it to be out of scale in proportion, but in reality I dont believe it is.
(At this time Mr. Paul passed his I-pad around to the Planning Commission Members to show them the building as it is currently.)
Mr. McErlane: In Staff, we commented that it looked as if your Front Room furniture sign that is illustrated on here is correct because it looks like Cincy Mattress dwarfs it.
Mr. Paul: I dont think they are in proportion.
Ms. McBride: I was the one that had the comment that I thought the Cincy Mattress sign made the building look out of balance and based on the exhibit that was submitted, I think that it does. We are reacting by what the applicant has submitted; based on that I stand by my comments. If this exhibit is not correct then I dont really know how to react to the applicants comments.
Mr. Paul: Clearly it is not to scale.
Mr. Galster: Do you know what size that beam is that protrudes from the building?
Mr. Paul: It is 50 in length; I do not know the exact height.
Mr. Okum: It looks about 14 in height.
Mr. Galster: And how tall is that awning that is down below that?
Mr. Paul: I would guess that awning is anywhere from 3 to 4.
Mr. Galster: Would you say that the sign is proportionate to the awning?
Mr. Paul: No; I dont think so. Again, I think the challenge of our graphic sign company is presenting in two-dimension what is really the corner of that building.
Mr. Galster: Because, when I looked at it as being on the beam and the sign is going out the wrong way and I had a hard time grasping it.
Mr. Paul: The sign is actually very close to what would be the entrance of that store on the north side of that building. It is actually more of an angle to the awning and more to the right of it.
Mr. Galster: It would be my understanding that this backdrop to these channel letters would be mounted in the center of the beam?
Mr. Paul: Right. The bottom of the backdrop will be at the bottom edge of the beam and extend up from that and cover it completely. That beam is structured so that there is rebar above it to support a sign and they are going to use that rebar to support this sign.
Mr. Galster: I guess I am still having an issue on how to get the proportions right on the building; not having a drawing that is proportionally accurate, the 9 in height seems like it is pretty large even for the front of that building. To say that I am o.k. with going to such a large sign without having it proportioned on the building is awfully tough to do.
Mr. Paul: The size of the letter; the capital C is 5-4.
Mr. Galster: That is my dilemma, this is what we asked you to do; instead of taking that beam out we were hoping to have another tenant and another use, utilize the same beam. You have done all of that, but I just cant look at the pictures that I have been provided and get a feeling for scale.
Mr. Okum: I tend to agree with Mr. Galster, in regards to that proportionally, it is hard to place it. I am very positive, to what you are trying to do. I did have two questions before I talk about sign size: Front Room currently occupies how many square foot of your building?
Mr. Paul: Some of it is warehouse, about 15,000 is warehouse so we probably have roughly 70,000 in total today.
Mr. Okum: And Cincy Mattress will occupy how much?
Mr. Paul: 5,200 roughly; it is the size of the showroom on the back side that exist there today. There is some office space still there that is sort of in the middle of the northeast corner.
Mr. Okum: The additional space that is left in the building is how much?
Mr. Paul: There will be zero retail space left there.
Mr. Okum: Proportionally, if we are looking at what you submitted in disproportion to Front Room versus the Cincy Mattress part of the business; that is for the business owner to base it on. I am confused on how it is going to look; I think for me to be positive about this I am going to need better illustration, otherwise I cant, at this point, support this and I want to help the process along. It is not that I am negative to what you are proposing; it is that I cant visualize what you are proposing especially when Front Room looks so much smaller in perspective to what you have presented for Cincy Mattress.
Mr. Paul: The one thing that should be taken into account is that Front Room has signs on both the north and south sides of the building. Cincy Mattress will have no exposure on the south side of the building. The position on the pylon sign, that exists today, is much more dominant for Front Room.
Mr. Galster: Mr. McErlane, in your report you are giving me 866.75 s.f. for Front Room, do we have a breakdown on what the north elevation square footage is?
Mr. McErlane: No.
Mr. Paul: I think it is 78 tall by 26 in length total; that is the vinyl itself.
Mr. Galster: This might be more to dimensional scale because you are only boxing that in. Until we can tie down how that is visually going to look, I have a problem.
Mr. Okum: The case is huge; it is 9 X 45; but the letter components on that case because it is a white case it is going to be very obvious because it is a white case on that beam. I think possibly you may want to consider, but it does cost more and one of the things that we held Sofa Express to was, individual channel letters and it becomes a very costly factor but reducing the case down alone may be a factor that would be helpful to bringing that sign down in mass. The size of the lettering is distinctive and it is not bold and strong lettering; I think it is very attractive in essence.
Mr. Paul: It is a huge building and although it is on the freeway and I know these are ordinances outside of Springdale but the amount of signage that the typical passenger/driver is subjected to on I-275 makes this building seem harder to recognize and so I really think we need that large letter there to make sure that the customer understands that we are all about mattresses and trying to play up the Cincy aspect of it; and I apologize and it is frustrating; that is why I brought the pictures on the I-pad, to try to get some scale. I dont believe it is out of proportion. Our timetable is such that we are really hoping to open on November 5th and Grand Open it shortly thereafter so it would be prior to the next time the Commission meets. I am wondering what the Commission would think about us getting a temporary sign of this size; a canvas, plastic a large heavy sign of this size and securing it to the building and it would be temporary and it would help us open and then it would give you the ability to say if it is too big or if it is too small.
Mr. Galster: I think especially with the mounting arrangements that you have there you can probably set it up even to hold a large banner. You can run a guide wire across the top, across the bottom and get it stretched out to where it stays taunt and he can probably do this size in a banner and it would be the least expensive. I am not opposed to putting a banner up to allow you to have your opening and to give us the ability to see the proportion and to give you the opportunity to take a picture of that and bring it back in and then we would have a better understanding of how that would fit on the building.
Mrs. Boice: I think the important thing is we want business in this City and all over the Country for that matter. I think the idea of some type of a banner to get you up and running and to get the name out there; then we could take it from there.
Chairman Darby: Do I have a motion?
Mr. McErlane: This likely exceeds the banner requirements in the code.
Mr. Okum: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a motion to allow for a 60 day temporary banner for the Cincy Mattress sign to be placed on the beam elevation area of the existing frontage; to be up to approximately 9 X 50, as determined by the applicant.
(Mrs. Boice seconded the motion.)
Mr. Galster: I dont have any problem with allowing the pole sign; should we include that?
Mr. Okum: That is just a sign face; Planning Commission doesnt need to approve that.
(Mr. Bauer polled the Planning Commission Members on the motion and with a unanimous aye vote from the Planning Commission Members the temporary banner was approved.)
VIII. DISCUSSION CHAIRMANS REPORT
(No items for discussion presented at this meeting.)
IX. CHAIRMANS REPORT
Chairman Darby: You can see we approved several signs this past month. Our next meeting is scheduled for November 8th.
Mrs. Boice moved to adjourn; Mr. Okum seconded and with seven affirmative
votes from the Planning Commission Members present, the meeting adjourned at
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Don Darby, Chairman
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Richard Bauer, Secretary