Warsaw BZA Approves Sign, Sales Variances

Dale Custer, owner of Superior Developing LLC, tells the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals on Monday why he wants the variances. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.

Two petitions for variances from Dale Custer, owner of Superior Developing LLC, were approved 3-0 by the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals Monday night.

The first was for a variance from development standards to allow for a greater sign area than permitted in an Industrial-2 zoning district. The second was for a use variance to allow automobile and construction equipment sales in an I-2 zoning district. The property for both requests is between Corridor Drive and U.S. 30.

On the variance from development standards to allow for a greater sign area than permitted, Assistant City Planner Bekah Schrag said Superior Developing was requesting a sign allowance of up to 2,000 square feet for multiple signs, some of which will be attached to storage containers along U.S. 30.

The property one of the first properties within city limits along U.S. 30W.

“The surrounding context includes other businesses having a mix of freestanding, wall and temporary signs. One business nearby in an I-2 has a sign height of 24 feet. There also are two billboards along U.S. 30, one to the southeast of the parcel and one near the middle of the parcel’s southern frontage, which typically are 672 square feet,” Schrag said. “The nature of the U.S. 30 corridor lends itself to an environment where taller and larger signs are necessary to communicate businesses and their products.”

The Planning Department has approved a few signs that are larger than permitted, one being the sign split between Parkview and the YMCA, which totals 468 square feet, and another being for the Aegis Dental Group.

Based on the findings of fact, the information provided and the surrounding context, Schrag said the Planning Department believes the BZA could approve the request, however the Department recommends that some conditions be added to the approval. Based on the location and existence of the billboard on the parcel, the Planning Department proposes to allow for one monument or freestanding sign along U.S. 30 that is about half the size of a typical billboard. This would allow for a sign that is 340 square feet and 24 feet in height as calculated per the sign ordinance.

“To clarify the Planning Department’s recommendations, we suggest to allow for one monument or freestanding sign at 340 square feet along U.S. 30; to allow for one monument or freestanding sign at 120 square feet along Corridor Drive; to allow for the freestanding sign to be 24 feet in height along U.S. 30; temporary signs are allowed up to 230 square feet and must comply with the temporary sign regulations. In total, this suggestion offers 460 square feet of permanent signs and 230 square feet of temporary signs,” she stated.

Custer asked if the square footage of the signs was a total or half on each side. Schrag said the total was on each side of the sign as long as a person couldn’t see both sides from one point of view. “Each side can be 340 (square) feet,” she said.

Custer then asked about signs on the storage units and if they would be temporary or permanent. City attorney Scott Reust said his opinion was that “if the structure it’s attached to is mobile, then I think what Mr. Custer is describing as a mobile storage container, I think that would be a temporary sign because it’s not permanently affixed by a post or a building or something else. So I think that would qualify as a temporary sign because a mobile storage container could be … moved around at any time. So I think it needs to be a permanent structure for it to be a permanent sign.”

Schrag said a temporary sign can only be posted for up to 180 days in a calendar year.

Custer suggested that other businesses in the city have temporary signs up.

Eventually, BZA President Tom Allen told Custer that the Board could only vote one what’s in the application. If Custer wanted to make any additional changes after that, he would need to go to the Planning Department and discuss that with them and see if another petition would be required.

Board member Dan Smith made the motion to approve the petition with the restrictions the Planning Department requested. Board member Jeff Johnson seconded it and it was passed 3-0. Board members Rick Keeven and Tammy Dalton were absent.

On the second petition for a use variance to allow automobile and construction equipment sales in an I-2 zoning district, Schrag said Superior Developing wanted to use the property for sales of a variety of products, including excavating equipment, trucks and automobiles along with other permitted sales for an I-2 district. The property is between Corridor Drive and U.S. 30 and is one of the first parcels in city limits along westbound U.S. 30W. The surrounding contest also includes properties that sell trailers, sporting goods, tools and hardware, restaurant supplies and electrical supplies.

The eastern adjacent property is an unincorporated mobile home park (Timber Creek Estates).

“The Planning Department believes that this request could be viewed favorably when measured by the criteria defined within the findings of fact,” she said.

Without much comment from Custer or the Board, the petition was approved 3-0.