RED BLUFF PLANNING COMMISSION
Date of Meeting: April 11, 2006
Time of Meeting: 5:15 p.m.
Place of Meeting: Red Bluff City Council Chambers
555 Washington Street
Commissioners Present: Doug Dale
Commissioners Absent: None
Staff Present: Charlie Mullen, Planning Director
John Blacklock, Interim City Manager
Scot Timboe, Planner
Gerry Gray, Fire Chief
Cheryl Smith, Deputy City Clerk
Chairperson Brink called the meeting to order at 5:15 p.m., introducing Interim City Manager John Blacklock.
Interim City Manager John Blacklock led the Pledge of Allegiance at the request of Chairperson Brink and the Assemblage joined in.
Mr. Blacklock thanked the Planning Commission for the opportunity to lead the pledge and stated that he had a chance to review the minutes from previous Planning Commission meetings and that he knew the work coming out of this Commission will be very helpful to the City Council.
A. CITIZENS COMMENTS
B. CONSENT CALENDAR:
1. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
March 28, 2006
Commissioner Latourell requested that a minor change be made to the minutes, which was to change “Q” to queue on page 9.
M/S/C Latourell, Winter to approve the minutes of March 28, 2006 as corrected.
AYES: Commissioners: Brink, Christ, Dale, Latourell and Winter
ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None
C. CURRENT BUSINESS:
1. APPEAL OF TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE DESIGN REVIEW CONDITIONS OF APPROVAL; SIGN DESIGN REVIEW 06-005; REQUEST TO REPLACE AN EXISTING FREEWAY ORIENTED SIGN IN A “C-3” ZONING DISTRICT; 203 ANTELOPE BLVD., AJ PATEL (OWNER), MCHALE SIGN CO. (APPLICANT)
Scot Timboe, Planner, reviewed the staff report and gave staff’s recommendation that the Planning Commission:
1. Consider all public testimony and all other information submitted relating to the appeal.
2. Adopt Resolution No. 06-003, denying the appeal and upholding the decision of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) requiring that the proposed design of the freestanding Freeway Oriented Sign frame and support column be enhanced.
3. Approve the appeal, overturn the decision of the Technical Advisory Committee, approve the proposed freestanding Freeway Oriented Sign as requested by the appellants and direct staff to prepare the necessary Resolution with findings, for consideration at the April 25, 2006 meeting.
4. Provide staff with other direction as determined to be appropriate by the Planning Commission.
Jayu Bhavan, part-owner Best Western Antelope Inn, stated that she did understand the Planning Departments request to enhance the sign, however they feel that what the Planning Department is saying in as far as being consistent with all the new construction in town, but it is a lot easier for new construction to conform to do the new design because everything is being built from scratch and its part of their construction budget. But as an existing property when the renovation was completed they had not planned on enhancing the sign, as they did not believe that would be a problem. To change the sign would cause a burden as the motel has not changed ownership, but just a name change. She stated that Best Western will not allow them to alter the sign and that the pole couldn’t be seen because of the trees in the area. The Landham Act will not allow them to do the casing as requested by the Planning Department.
Aaron Hoerber, McHale Signs, stated that when the motel changed to Best Western they were required to have the Best Western logo. He felt that this was a lot to ask of the owners when they were just changing the motel’s name. He stated that the Planning Ordinance only mentions that the material, size, color, letter, location and arrangement of signs must be an intrigue part of the site and building design and he feels that this is an all encompassing phase. He stated that the Best Western sign would be a newer sign and more tasteful than the former Super 8 sign. He continued by saying that the owner had already ordered the sign and had no idea that he would run into problems with the new sign. He stated that this was a large expense when they were not changing the property use.
Commissioner Dale questioned what Mr. Hoerber was saying was that the design of the pole would affect the trade mark.
Mr. Hoerber stated not the pole it self but it was requested that a frame be placed around the pole and that is what is affecting the shape. The pole can have stipulations on it, but not the actual silhouette of the Best Western logo could not as it is part of their trademark.
Charlie Mullen, Planning Director, stated that he would respectfully disagree with Mr. Hoerber as there are many signs with diversity in the way they are displayed. Staff is not asking that they change the trademark logo just the surrounding encasement and the pole structure.
Mr. Hoerber stated that all the other signs shown in the photographs provided to the Planning Commission did not have the extra encasing and in fact the only time that can be altered is when there is a multi tenant use, such as Burger King and Del Taco.
Commissioner Dale requested clarification on the approved Best West logo shape and if Mr. Hoerber was saying that the City was requiring them to box it out and put the shape in side the box. Commissioner Dale asked if Mr. Mullen could explain.
Mr. Mullen explained that staff provided some examples and stated that staff was not trying to design the sign for the applicant, just giving design direction. Mr. Hoerber is correct regarding the ordinance and the ordinance is not specific to that affect and there is some subjectivity to it. Instead of specific direction they were given some general direction of what staff was trying to achieve by enhancement of the sign and in this instance Mr. Hoerber did not offer to come up with any design solutions so staff was not able to have any discussion on what an acceptable design would be and there is nothing returned to staff for review. Staff is willing to work with the applicant on this and sometimes its takes a couple of tries.
Mr. Hoerber stated that it was not that they were obtuse to the design criteria, but felt that the burden placed upon the owner was unjustified and that in fact there is some other way to come up with a mid ground without the extremely expensive burden upon the owner.
Chairperson Brink stated that what the city was trying to do was enhance the appearance of the signs and on new construction it’s a lot easier, but he doesn’t see why the Best Western Antelope Inn logo could not be boxed in and still have the desired trademark of Best Western. He feels that the owners should have taken the cost into consideration as part of the cost of changing over from Super 8 to Best Western.
Mr. Mullen stated that as a sign company they should know that any time a sign is changed out that not only will it require planning permits, but building department permits and structural calculations.
Mr. Hoerber stated that the owner did not understand and that the sign had already been ordered by the owner.
Mr. Mullen stated that as soon as the Planning Department became aware of the application, they expressed information to the applicant on what needed to be done.
Chairperson Brink stated that the red flag was raised that there was going to be a problem.
Mr. Mullen stated that was correct and that he understands that the owner is in a situation where they have purchased a sign, however its not the City’s responsibility that they purchased the sign prior to getting the City’s approval.
Mr. Hoerber stated that he understood that, but that the owner had no foresight of the problems. They feel that the requirements of the Planning Department were not justified, which was why they appealed the decision and had it brought before the Planning Commission.
Commissioner Latourell questioned if staff had the existing record from when the original sign was installed.
Mr. Mullen stated yes, but that there was only a building permit on file with no diagrams included.
Commissioner Latourell stated that on page 3 or 4 of the packet there was engineering design and questioned what the design depicted was that the sign met wind loading requirements. He stated that he would like to see the final drawing for the sign. He questioned Mr. Mullen if there was a standard color for poles.
Mr. Hoerber stated that was for the original sign and that it was showing the engineering calculations. He stated that the only thing that had changed was the footing on the sign.
Mr. Mullen stated that staff has been consistently trying to get signage to compliment the site and the buildings. In some situations they exactly match the building and in others they are just complimentary to it, so there are some variations.
Commissioner Latourell requested clarification on what was meant by pole cover and if this was just a skirting on the existing pole.
Mr. Hoerber stated that was their understanding and that engineering would have to reprove and recalculate.
Commissioner Latourell stated that when these signs are authorized there is not a requirement of the City that the sign must be maintained.
Mr. Timboe stated that there were requirements that they have to maintain the signs and that staff does what they can with the workload they have. If something gets bad enough that people start complaining about a sign then staff does talk to the owners about the up keep of the sign.
Commissioner Latourell stated that he did not wish to have anyone policing the signs and that the issue before the Planning Commission was just the sign not the pole.
Mr. Mullen stated that staff’s direction was to enhance the sign frame and the pole.
Commissioner Latourell stated that a decision would have to be made for both the sign and the pole. He stated that as long as it’s safe he felt that the focus would be on the sign and not the pole.
Mr. Mullen stated that Commissioner Latourell was correct that this was not a safety issue.
Chairperson Brink stated that the sign had already been purchased and now it could not be used.
Mr. Hoerber stated that it was not that they could not use the sign, but the wrap around the sign is an infringement upon the Best Western logo rights and those rights are protected. If the owners could just do a pole cover that was acceptable to the City and use the sign that was purchased.
Ms. Bhavan stated that the sign that they had purchased is the sign that they will have to use, it’s not that they have purchased the wrong sign.
Mr. Mullen stated that for clarification they would be able to use the sign that they purchased.
Ms. Bhavan stated that was correct, but it was a financial burden on their part to encase the sign and pole.
Commissioner Christ questioned if staff had required anyone else to enhance their signs.
Mr. Mullen stated Applebee’s, Del Taco and Burger King. The Burger King sign will be removed and a multi tenant sign put up depicting Applebee’s, Burger King and Del Taco.
Commissioner Dale questioned what specifically staff was referring to, where they state in the staff report “enhancing the sign frame”.
Mr. Timboe stated that staff was referring to the border around the logo and then enhancing the pole.
Mr. Mullen stated that staff tries to avoid giving specific sign designs to an applicant, as staff is the reviewing agency and not a design firm.
Commissioner Dale questioned how much it would cost to make the enhancements.
Mr. Hoerber stated that it would cost $15,000 to cover the pole and the new sign.
Commissioner Dale questioned how long a sign usually lasts.
Mr. Hoerber stated that the vinyl facing should last 10 years.
Mr. Mullen stated that the bigger issue was that there may be more of these signs coming in and this is an opportunity for the Planning Commission to provide direction to staff so that it can be passed on to applicants if you feel that it’s OK to keep the poles as they are without any sign enhancements or if the Planning Commission feels that this is an opportunity to enhance signage and improve the quality.
Mr. Hoerber stated that it was his impression that the City was not going to allow any more pole signs and for people who are not changing their franchise their pole will be up forever.
Mr. Mullen stated that anyone within a freeway area can apply for a freeway orientated sign and that there was no prohibition against freeway signs.
Mr. Timboe added that what Mr. Hoerber was referring to happened when the application was proposing a second sign that was in a floodway and that there is no development within 30 feet of a floodway.
Commissioner Latourell questioned what color the pole would be.
Mr. Hoerber stated that the pole would be satin black.
Commissioner Latourell stated that this was an existing pole and allowances should be made for existing structures, as other signs have been there and he felt it should be allowed as depicted with no extra requirements.
Commissioner Dale stated that from the freeway you couldn’t tell what kind of pole it was, but along Antelope and Sale Lane you could tell what type of pole and questioned Mr. Mullen if what staff wanted was the sign squared up, the pole boxed in and the painted a complimentary color to the motel.
Mr. Hoerber stated that trees may cover the pole from the freeway, but even on Antelope Blvd. there are existing pole signs that are right on the street, whereas this sign is tucked behind Perko’s and not totally seen from the street.
Chairperson Brink questioned if what Mr. Hoerber felt was that the Best Western log sign could not be adapted to the Technical Advisory Committee requirements.
Mr. Hoerber stated that was correct, it was his understanding that the pole could be covered, but the silhouette could not be changed.
Commissioner Christ stated that the bigger issue is that they can make a sign that will work and comply with the requirements; the question is how do we want to address this going forward as there are several other businesses in the area that will have the same problem with consolidation and changing. Do we want to upgrade these signs every time? He stated that he supports City staff but feels that the existing people should have some leeway to replacements.
Commissioner Latourell stated that they are not changing the use, but in this situation he can’t come up with a good reason to make them change the sign as long as the pole meets the safety requirements.
Commissioner Dale stated that he assumed that any pole established will meet engineering safety standards, but he would favor upgrading the pole. He stated that he didn’t quite understand what staff was requiring on the cabinet, but he does understand what they are trying to do with the pole.
Commissioner Latourell questioned when the original sign was installed.
Mr. Hoerber stated that it was placed in 1985.
M/S/C Dale, Winter to adopt Resolution No. 06-003, denying the appeal and upholding the decision of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) requiring that the proposed design of the Freestanding Freeway Oriented Sign frame and support column be enhanced.
AYES: Commissioners: Dale, Brink and Winter
NOES: Commissioners: Christ and Latourell
ABSENT OR NOT VOTING: None
Commissioner Dale questioned if the applicant could appeal to the City Council.
Mr. Mullen stated that the applicant could appeal to the City Council within 10 days of this decision and pay the appeal fee.
Mr. Hoerber questioned if they could bring just the pole cover back.
Commissioner Christ stated that the Planning Director was willing to work with the applicant so that they have something that will work when the come back the next time.
Commissioner Dale stated that his concern was with the pole and not the sign.
D. STAFF ITEMS/REPORTS:
Chairperson Brink stated that he found the Institute for Local Government’s very interesting.
Mr. Mullen stated that staff had received this document and felt that it would be beneficial to the Planning Commission. It is only provided as an informational tool to assist the Planning Commission in making decisions.
Mr. Mullen stated that the only item for the April 25, 2006 meeting would be the Wal-Mart resolutions and conditions.
Chairperson Brink questioned where the meeting would be held.
Mr. Mullen stated that the meeting would be held in the Council Chambers beginning at 5:15 p.m.
There being no further business Chairperson Brink adjourned the meeting at 6:27 p.m. to April 25, 2006 at 5:15 p.m.