By David Slone
WARSAW – A sign on South Buffalo Street and a building in Boggs Industrial Park will be larger and taller than city code allows after the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday approved variances for two separate cases.
In the first case, Graycraft Signs, on behalf of The RGroup, petitioned for a variance from development standards to allow for a larger and taller sign than allowed in a Commercial-4 district. The property is at 220 S. Buffalo St. and is surrounded by C-4.
Assistant City Planner Bekah Schrag told the Board the petitioner requested a variance for “a 64-square-foot sign allowance and an increased height standard to 18.5 feet within the C-4 Central Business District.” Currently, the city code limits sign heights to 8 feet and sign faces to 32 square feet per zoned lot.
“The petitioner wishes to repaint the old sign structure, which is 26.5 feet tall, and install two internally illuminated signage cabinets 18.5 feet from the ground,” she said. The cabinets are 8 feet by 4 feet each.
“Since the building has two tenants, each tenant would be allowed to have the 32-square-feet sign allotment if this variance is approved. The surrounding properties include parking lots, a railroad and other commercial buildings,” she said.
Based on the information provided and the findings of fact, Schrag said it was the city Planning Department’s recommendation that the BZA could recommend approval for the request. However, opinions from neighbors should be weighed heavily. She asked if the petitioner could provide a brief description of how the strict application of the zoning ordinance would result in practical difficulties.
Scott Gray, from Graycraft Signs in Warsaw, representing The RGroup, said it was the old Owens & Co. building. He said the sign structure was put up around 1998.
“The reason it was so high back then was, the building actually, on the north side, limits the first 16 feet of the sign structure so northbound traffic, you’re not able to see the signs at all unless they’re at least over the height of the building,” Gray said.
Previously, the address was at the top of the sign and then there were two 4-foot by 5-foot signs for the two businesses at the building. Gray said, “Now, The RGroup bought the building, I guess, and they’re going to have two businesses in there as well.” What they want to do is to keep the sign structure the same size it is now, but put two 4-foot by 8-foot cabinets on the structure that are internally illuminated by LED lights and pushed through acrylic letters so only the letters light up and not the background.
“The reason we need to go so high was because we have to be at least over the roof of the building. That’s why we need to go to that height,” Gray said. “And the reason we need that amount of square footage on the signs is because the higher you go with signs, the bigger the lettering has to be to be visible from the road.”
He said the sign will look very nice.
Schrag said there were no remonstrators against the petition, and it was approved 4-0.
In the second case, Michael Summers petitioned for a variance to allow a building height of up to 45 feet in an Industrial-2 zoning district at Akzo Nobel Coatings Inc., 1501 Armstrong Road, Warsaw. The closest other zoning districts are I-2.
Schrag said the petitioner is requesting the variance to allow a building height of 45 feet as opposed to the maximum 35 feet. This variance would allow for new equipment to be installed for the milling, mixing and extrusion process involved in powder coatings.
Based on the information provided and the findings of facts, she said it was the recommendation of the city Planning Department that the BZA provide a positive approval for the variance.
There were no remonstrators against the petition.
BZA member Dan Smith said he wished they could see a sketch of the building. City Planner Justin Taylor said it wasn’t necessary for the variance and that the 10-foot deviation probably wouldn’t be noticeable to most people.
There was some discussion about the height of other buildings in the area – Boggs Industrial Park – and if some of the height restrictions in the city code might be a little antiquated. It was noted a water tower to the south of the property in question was taller.
The petition was unanimously approved.