The applicant is proposing to lease space at 3420 124th Avenue in Riverdale Commons shopping center. The space was most recently occupied by Sports Authority. The space is located near the west end of the center and is between Michaels on the right and Office Max of the left. The applicant is requesting 278 square feet of wall signage. The signage includes the logo (234 square feet) and six sub-copy signs (42 square feet).
The previous tenant, Sports Authority, had 174 square feet of wall signage, the sign complied with the current sign code. Signage for neighboring tenants identified by the applicant were approved prior to 2007 when the sign code was amended. Those signs are greater than 200 square feet. Prior to 2007, the maximum amount of wall signage allowed was 20% of the square footage of the wall on which the sign was located. By way of comparison, under the old code a tenant in this space could have had up 936 square feet of signage - more than 3 times as much as the applicant is currently proposing.
Variance Request From Section 11-1203.7(1) Amount of signage
In order for a variance to be granted, the Board must make the following findings of City Code Section 11-304.9(2), Standards for Approval for granting variances. A variance may be granted only after the following findings are made:
1. The variance is in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the ordinance from which the variance is requested
The purpose of the sign code is to regulate the number, location, size, type, illumination and other physical characteristics of signs within the City in order to promote the public health, safety, and welfare; maintain, enhance and improve the aesthetic environment of the City by preventing visual clutter that is harmful to the appearance of the community; improve the visual appearance of the City while providing for effective means of communication, consistent with constitutional guarantees and the City’s goals of public safety and aesthetics, and provide for fair and consistent enforcement of the sign regulations.
The proposed variance is in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the sign code. Having additional signage will help direct customers to the site, provide visibility from Main Street and 124th Avenue, and identify the main entrance to the building. The additional wall signage will not cause visual clutter, and the signage is proportional to the size of the building.
2. The variance is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan.
The Comprehensive Plan seeks to maintain a diversified economic base and a climate that encourages economic development and ongoing business activity. This goal can be furthered by allowing adequate signage that enhances access, identification and visibility for businesses.
The requested signage allows the business to be identified from different locations on Main Street and 124th Avenue. The additional signage enhances access and provides identification of the products available.
3. The applicant demonstrates there are practical difficulties in complying with the ordinance from which the variance is sought. Practical difficulties include, but are not limited to, inadequate access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems. Economic considerations alone do not constitute practical difficulties. In determining this standard, all the following must be met:
a. Unless the variance is granted, the property cannot be used in a reasonable manner. If a property can be used reasonably without the granting of a variance, it can be used in a reasonable manner.
Because of its location within the shopping center and the design of the trademark logo, this sign configuration is needed to help the applicant be successful at this location. The maximum height is determined by the S's at the end of the logo. If the S's are reduced in size, thereby reducing the overall size of the logo, the smaller letters become difficult to read. The sub-copy signs are already one foot tall and making them shorter would reduce there readability also.
b. The variance requested must be the minimum to make reasonable use of the property.
The applicant has demonstrated that the variance requested is the minimum needed to make a reasonable use of the property.
c. The plight of the applicant or landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the applicant or landowner.
These circumstances were not created by the applicant or landowner, and are unique to this property. The property is located in a shopping center and the additional signage is needed to overcome the limited visibility.
d. The variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the locality.
If granted, the variance not alter the character of the shopping center.
The application for variance requires the applicant submit a written narrative explaining how the variance request meets the following criteria: explain the undue hardship that exists based upon circumstances unique to the property, explain how the request allows the minimum improvement that would make possible the reasonable use of the property, explain how the request would not be detrimental to the neighborhood or the public welfare and explain how the variance would not grant a special privilege not common to other property in the same zoning district. The applicant’s narrative is attached.