Veterinary clinic appeals ruling, wanting to place new sign in front of business
One of the public hearings at the July meeting of the New Albany Board of Aldermen was a case appealed from planning and zoning concerning a request for a variance from the city’s sign ordinance.
The owners of New Albany Animal Clinic, from Holly Springs, had purchased a $22,000 lighted sign with message board to replace the old, small wooden sign presently in the field in front of the building, not aware the city had sign restrictions.
They were told the sign could not be used because it is larger than allowed and also has internal lighting, which is prohibited (confusingly, a similar sign on a tall pole instead of sitting on the ground could be approved).
Attorney Bill Rutledge, representing the doctors, said the ordinance is not easily accessible to the public unless someone knows to ask for it, that the new sign would replace a small, battered old sign and that the size limitation was intended to prevent obstruction of the view by drivers. He noted this sign would be nearly 100 feet from the road, obstructing nothing.
Concerning the internal lighting restriction, Mayor Kent said he understood that was originally aimed more at the proliferation of portable “flashing arrow” signs around town when the ordinance was written.
Rutledge listed the possible conditions needed to grant a variance and argued this sign meets every one. “That’s why variances exist,” he said. “Use common sense. You don’t have to follow the ordinance letter by letter. This is a unique situation.”
He also mentioned examples of other signs that have been allowed although they do not meet city requirements. “We need to be friendly to business; say yes, not no,” he added.
One of the owners, Dr. Robert Childers, said he knows now they should have asked before getting the sign, but did not then. He told aldermen they want to build their practice, have a veterinarian living here full-time, add services and become more a part of the community. He also said the sign would be used for public service messages as well as to promote the clinic.
Board attorney Regan Russell said aldermen had three possible courses of action: vote on the request immediately, take the request under advisement until the next meeting, or propose an amendment to the sign ordinance that would permit the sign.
Ward Two Alderman Johnny Anderson said he did not like the idea of overrunning the planning and zoning commission unless it were really necessary but it was noted that this was a case where the commission had no choice according to the wording of the law.
Eventually, aldermen voted to take the request under advisement until the August meeting, partly because some other amendments to the sign ordinance have been proposed and it could be that the ordinance just needs overhauling.
Later, in the last public appearance of the night, aldermen considered a request from Jeff Knox, who owns the home at the corner of Apple and Glade next to the middle school gym. The home has sustained water damage and it was determined that this was partly due to a city curb problem allowing water to run under the house. Mayor Kent said part of the problem also was due to water running off the gym. The city’s part of the problem has been corrected, Kent said. Knox had an estimate for damages but Kent said he should check with the school officials to see what they would do and then aldermen would decide how much they would pay at the August board meeting.
Original Article: http://newalbanygazette.com/2015/07/10/veterinary-clinic-appeals-ruling-wanting-to-place-new-sign-in-front-of-business/