By Rosemary K. Otzman
At the end of the City of Belleville Planning Commission meeting June 12, Commissioners Henry Kurczewski and Mike Renaud commented that approving two out of three signs that evening wasn’t a bad record for their commission.
But, Commissioner Renaud added, “They had to take out a strip to meet the square feet needed, but we chose not to question that.”
He referred to the Davenport Plaza sign.
The commission approved signs for the Belleville Church of God on Hull Road and the Davenport Plaza on East Columbia Avenue.
But, the commission did not approve Sam Kassab’s proposed sign for his Lake Plaza at 510-524 Main Street.
Commissioners also told Kassab that he had to come back for his site plan approvals after complying with what planning consultant Jill Bahm had spelled out to him a couple of meetings ago.
Bahm was not present at the June 12 meeting.
This June 12 meeting was at least the fifth time Kassab has been before this planning commission seeking various approvals for upgrades to the parking lot and buildings in place.
June 12 was his second sign review and this time the size was in keeping with the ordinance, but he did not identify all the sign materials and colors necessary before approval.
Bahm in her written recommendation had noted that the sign placement he proposed would interfere with sight lines at the driveway, so Kassab did agree to a 4-foot setback, which Bahm had recommended previously.
But he has yet to comply with the conditions set forth by the commission when it approved his site plan with conditions on March 13. The commission required specifics of his landscaping and his proposed parking layout and entryway before he can proceed.
After Kassab left the meeting room, Planning Commission Chairman Steve Jones rubbed his hands across his face in frustration, saying the commission is trying to help Kassab and Jones doesn’t know what else the commission can do to move Kassab’s project along.
One official said Kassab seems to think he can negotiate, but there are ordinances that must be followed.
Church of God sign
The Church of God sign at 45170 Hull Road is a one-sided ground sign that will be 4 feet from the ground to the top of the sign. The base is 12 inches high and the sign area is 3 feet high by 8 feet wide, for a total area of 24 square feet. It will be placed 48’ from the center of Hull Road. The sign will be illuminated and a separate permit is required for that.
Davenport Plaza sign
The Davenport sign meets the size and height requirements for the city ordinance, but by using some special tactics.
The ground sign is 10.3 feet from the ground to the top of the sign. The base is 1.7 feet high and the sign area is 8.7 feet high x 7.3 feet wide for a total area of 63.3 square feet, according to Bahm’s review.
The sign will be comprised of a block base, limestone cap, and a brick background. The individual sign panels are made of cut stainless steel and can change when the business tenants change. The sign will not be illuminated.
“I wonder how Jill could recommend approval,” said Commissioner Renaud, referring to planning consultant Bahm, who had sent her recommendation for approval, but was not at the meeting.
Renaud pointed out that the Davenport sign is two-sided, but Bahm did not mention that in her written comments.
Also, the sign features “strange shapes to come up with the square footage” because the sign would have been too big otherwise.
Renaud said they are not “measuring swooshes” to get the measurements they need to stay under the sign requirements. The sign would have been too large if they measured the whole sign area, so the swooshes between two sections of the sign were not counted.
He said if the rest of the commission wasn’t bothered by that, so be it.
He also noted the placement of the sign blocks the view for drivers in the first two parking spaces who can’t see oncoming traffic when backing out.
A Davenport representative said that’s just like when you are in a big parking lot and you are parked next to a van. You can’t see what’s coming when backing out.
“That’s something you can’t control,” Renaud said. “This is something we can control.”
Davenport’s architect Wade Hoppe said, “It is a disadvantage…” But, when deciding where to put the sign, he said they considered the view from vehicles moving in and out of the parking lot and decided this was the best placement.
It was pointed out the sign would be just half the length of the sparking spots.
Commissioner John Juriga then made a motion to accept the sign proposal and Commission Matthew Wagner seconded the motion. It passed unanimously.
City Manager Diana Kollmeyer introduced Rick Rutherford to the commission. Rutherford was hired as a part-time building official by the city to do some of the work formerly done by DPS Director Keith Boc, who retired.
By Rosemary K. Otzman