Sunnyway sign flap may lead to ordinance change

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot

Ladean Martin and the Greencastle Community Development Committee sat down May 8 to hash out interpretations of the borough ordinance regarding signs. Martin had been denied a waiver by the Zoning Hearing Board for a second sign at his renovated Sunnyway Foods grocery store.

Wade Burkholder, Frank Webster Jr., Larry Faight and Charles Eckstine represented borough council, and zoning officer Susan Armstrong and borough solicitor Sam Wiser were also consulted. The group wanted to decide what could or should be changed in the ordinance to serve businesses while retaining the character of the community.

On April 23 the Zoning Hearing Board ruled Martin’s appeal did not meet the five criteria for a waiver, specifically  telling him that aesthetics and economics did not create a hardship, which would have allowed a second sign.

Section 205-27 E.1.a. states that not more than one sign attached to and parallel to the premises facing each street shall be permitted. The sign cannot exceed 96 square feet or 10 percent of the surface area of the front of the building, whichever is greater.

Burkholder and Eckstine both said Suunyway Foods looked unfinished without a sign on the tower at the exit.

In 2014 the borough made revisions to the ordinance, focusing on downtown businesses in community commercial. Sunnyway was highway commercial farther away.

Wiser said, “Make sure to consider the impacts any amendment will have on all businesses in the district.”

 He acknowledge that the ordinance did not differentiate between a storefront of 50 feet or one several hundred feet long.

“You can look at zoning and at the size of the structure,” Wiser said, adding that other municipalities were more relaxed about signs in shopping centers. “You need to consider what’s right for Greencastle.”

As a whole, the committee was doubtful Martin could also put lettering between the two towers, as each of six department titles would also be considered signs.

The committee agreed with Wiser’s suggestion to take the 96 square feet out of the formula and keep the 10 percent standard. Basing that against the lineal feet of the storefront would allow two principle signs.

He and Armstrong planned to come up with wording for an amendment to the ordinance, which would go to the Franklin County Planning Commission, and then borough council. The change would be advertised, so the entire process could take 90 days before Martin was allowed to add a sign.