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    1.    
Board of Adjustment and Appeals - Regular Session
Meeting Date: 07/11/2019  
Subject:    PC 19-03V, Variance request from the Sign Code Section 11-1203.7(1), Rozeanna Berg
From: Scott Harlicker

INTRODUCTION
The applicant, Roseanna Berg, representing the owner of the building, is requesting a variance for relief from Section 11-1203.7(1) to display a sign on a wall that does not meet the definition of business frontage. The property is at 3738 Coon Rapids Boulevard.
 
BACKGROUND & CONSIDERATIONS
The tenant’s space is located in the east building of the Parent Professional Properties IV. The applicant is proposing to display a sign on the east wall of the building, facing Cross Fire Assembly Church. The signage includes the name of the tenant, Land Title. The proposed signage would be approximately 58 square feet and complies the maximum square footage requirement. The letters are 2 feet high.

The placement of the signage must be compliant with City Code Section 11-203.7(1), which limits wall signs to two business frontages. City Code Section 11-201 defines business frontage as “an exterior building wall that faces a public street or contains a public entrance.” Considering this definition, the proposed sign is required to face Coon Rapids Boulevard. The wall on which the sign is proposed to be located does not face Coon Rapids Boulevard; it faces the adjacent church property to the east.

Considerations
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. Finding: 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.
 
Regulating physical characteristics of signs and, specifically, the location of signs designed to enhance the aesthetic environment of the City by preventing visual clutter. Granting a variance to allow a sign facing an adjacent property is not consistent with the purpose and intent of the regulations. The petitioner can effectively communicate with the public by means of a sign without placing a sign at the proposed location. There are other locations on the building that the sign can be placed to be seen by vehicular and pedestrian traffic on Coon Rapids Boulevard.
 
  1. Finding: The variance is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan
The Comprehensive Plan includes a policy to continue to enforce sign regulations that encourage high aesthetic quality. This goal can be furthered by ensuring adherence to land use regulations whenever possible.
 
  1. Finding: The application demonstrates there are practical difficulties in complying with the ordinance from which the variance is sought. Practical difficulties include, but are not limited to, adequate access to direct sunlight for solar energy systems. Economic considerations alone do not constitute practical difficulties. In determining this standard, all of the following must be met.
 
  1. Unless the variance is granted, the property cannot be used in a reasonable manner. If a property can be used reasonable without the granting of a variance, it can be used in a reasonable manner.
 The petitioner is proposing a sign facing an adjacent property to communicate with the public on Coon Rapids Boulevard. This same communication can occur without a variance by placing the sign on the building frontage on Coon Rapids Boulevard. The petitioner can maintain reasonable use of this property without the granting of the requested variance.  

 b.   The variance requested must be the minimum to make reasonable use of the property. The petitioner has not demonstrated that the variance requested is the minimum necessary to make reasonable use of the property. The petitioner has not demonstrated that a sign on the building frontage facing Coon Rapids Boulevard would not be able to communicate with the public on Coon Rapids Boulevard. 

c.   The plight of the applicant or landowner is due to circumstances unique to the property not created by the applicant or landowner. The plight of the petitioner is not unique to the property. There is no need to allow for the proposed location of the sign in order to overcome the plight that is associated with the location of the business. 
 
d.   The variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the locality. 


The petitioner’s property is located on Coon Rapids Boulevard adjacent to a variety of similar properties, residential properties, and a religious center. Similar properties have not requested signage variances, instead choosing to place their signs along business frontages. These uses are subject to the same sign regulations as the petitioner. In the petitioner’s narrative, accompanying this application, the petitioner specifically refers to signage located at 3800 Coon Rapids Boulevard. The City is aware of this signage and would like to note that this signage did not necessitate a variance because it placed along the business frontage.
 
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.
 
ACTION REQUESTED
In Case 19-03V, staff recommends denial of a signage variance from City Code Section 11-1203.7(1) to display a sign facing an adjacent property, where signage is exclusively permitted to face two business frontages, based on the request failing to meet the findings required in City Code Section 11-304.9(2).
 

Attachments
Location Map
Location of Proposed Sign
Picture of sign
Applicant's Narrative

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