Advocacy in Redevelopment In Advocacy Solutions
Suzanne BrownPublished: Aug. 23, 2019, 1:44 p.m.
Updated: Aug. 23, 2019, 1:44 p.m.
Advocacy in its pure form occurs when the Chamber brings businesses and agencies together to discuss facts and offer solutions regarding a business issue, providing movement forward. Being the voice of reason in an environment of misinformation is what we do.
On August 1, 2019, that happened. The Chamber convened developers and City officials to discuss proposed redevelopment of the Waffle Shoppe property, an eye sore to the community that has been vacant since 2016.
Two of the Chamber’s advocacy initiatives are to:
1. Reduce eye clutter
2. Encourage redevelopment of Highway 80.
The proposed redevelopment project aligns with those issues. Mark Robinson, Manager of External Affairs for AEP SWEPCO and Chair of the Public Policy Committee and member of the Board of Directors, expertly facilitated the discussion in a standing room only packed meeting room.
In a respectful discussion, the developers, planners, and city officials reviewed the redevelopment along with business leaders, and those who brought the historical perspective of sign ordinances to the table. Attendees learned the facts of where redevelopment stands, and city officials heard the voice of the business community.
On August 20, 2019, the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) meets to decide on the variance that has been filed to convert three existing billboards to electronic signs. The locations being:
• 611 East Marshall Ave
• 472 NE Loop 281
• 1621 NW Loop 281
For these signs, one side would be digital, the other side would be as is – paper.
Clarity was provided in that there are two separate conversations regarding this issue:
1. The sign variance process for changing three existing billboard signs.
2. An overall review of the City’s billboard sign ordinance to see if it the community desires a change in that ordinance.
Variances are typically filed for the case of setbacks and hardships. Legally a variance cannot set a precedent, but it does open the door for future variances. It is not contractual. Once the variance is decided upon by ZBA, that is the decision, by state law. The only thing that can change that decision is to file with district court.
Planner Grant Gary talked about previous digital signage in other communities that had placed restrictions within ordinances to prohibit distractive flashing and prevent an overall tacky appearance. A static stay time can be set, and caps be set on lighting at night.
Those who have served on previous task forces reviewing ordinances in 2003 and 2008, discussed setting conditions and restrictions on electronic billboards, “changeable copy sign,” and to look at alternate locations other than 281.
All were in agreement that the existing signage at the Waffle Shoppe is horrible and is not a pretty entry to the city. August 20 DZA meeting will determine the path forward for the Waffle Shoppe site redevelopment, and feedback to the city will decide if the city ordinance needs to be reviewed. Link to current city sign ordinance.