Ordinance change for signs in Greenville denied

By Kelli Ameling • Last Updated 11:31 am on Friday, May 10, 2013

GREENVILLE — The Greenville Planning Commission decided against changing the city’s ordinance on nonconforming signs for Hathaway properties, but recommended coming back with a different plan.

During Thursday’s Greenville Planning Commission meeting, Chanda Ignatoski of Hathaway Properties requested wording changes in the city’s sign ordinance so a new LED digital sign could be placed at the Greenville West Shopping Center.

The sign would include advertisements and names of businesses within the center.

In April, Ignatoski started talking with the previous Assistant City Manager Cameron Van Wyngarden, who she said suggested the wording change.

Ignatoski said the company would like to take out a bottom section of the sign and make the new portion an electronic sign.

The current sign that is in place is actually a nonconforming sign as it is bigger than what is allowed within the city limits because the sign was in place before the sign ordinance went into effect.

Tim Johnson of MainStreet Planning said for nonconforming signs, the shape, design or type of sign cannot be changed. However, the whole sign is able to change as long as it becomes 30 percent smaller.

In this case, although the shape would stay the same, Johnson said the design and type of sign would definitely go against the ordinance.

“There are three options,” Johnson said. “The council can change the language, (the company) can ask for a variance or you can do nothing.”

Discussion came down to whether or not the planning commission wanted to change the current ordinance for Hathaway Properties, or deny the request.

Commissioners discussed how in the past, they addressed sign issues because they knew advanced technology, such as the digital LED signs, were becoming popular. Therefore, there is also an ordinance that addresses electronic signs.

Commissioner Jeanne Cunliffe strongly stated she was not in favor of changing the ordinance.

“If we are allowing a nonconforming sign to change the ordinance, I don’t agree with that,” Cunliffe said. “I am not in favor of changing the ordinance to allow something else. It opens a whole can of worms.”

Many of the commissioners agreed.

Commissioner Greg VanderMark asked Ignatoski if the businesses in the shopping center will be paying for the new electronic sign, trying to clarify if Hathaway Properties would be providing the sign to the businesses for a nonprofit or profit purpose.

Ignatoski replied that businesses would not be paying for it, however, businesses would “probably not” be on the sign if they didn’t pay a fee.

Planning Commission Vice Chairman Mike Gustin suggested to Ignatoski that because the planning commission was not in favor of changing the ordinance for the company, to consider what the nonconforming ordinance allows them to do by changing the whole sign at a 30 percent reduction in size.

Ignatoski suggested she be in discussion about the option to redo the whole sign.

“Thank you for your time,” Ignatoski said. “I hope to keep the conversation going.”

In other business, the planning commission approved the outdoor display ordinance after holding a public hearing. The ordinance will now go to the city council for approval.

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