The Board of Zoning Appeals met on Monday, April 19, 2004 at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Mr. Monnett, Mr. Blevins, Mr. Shrum, Mr. Haase and Mr. Matrana.
ROLL CALL/DETERMINATION OF QUORUM
Mr. Carlucci administered the roll call.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Mr. Monnett made a motion to approve the March 15, 2004 minutes of the Plainfield Board of Zoning Appeals as submitted. Second by Mr. Blevins. Motion carried.
OATH OF TESTIMONY
Mr. Daniel administered the Oath of Testimony.
Mr. Matrana reviewed the Guidelines Governing the Conduct of Public
Hearings. The first hearing tonight is BZA-04-006, the Andy Mohr Chevrolet development standards.
Mr. Higbee said I might suggest that there is a continuance request
tonight for an item that is number three on your agenda. Would you like to take care of that first?
Mr. Matrana said yes we would. Is that the Stoops Buick?
Mr. Higbee said yes. I received a call and a fax today requesting a
continuance to the June 21 hearing because of some conversations going on between Stoops Buick and the developer at Airwest Business Park to work out some issues. So, this was their first continuance request. I advised them that you typically have no problem with the first continuance request but it would be 60 days, June 21 as I mentioned.
Mr. Shrum made a motion to grant the continuance of BZA-04-009 request to the June 21, 2004 meeting. Second by Mr. Monnett. Motion carried.
Mr. Higbee said moving on I will start with BZA-04-006. This is the
Andy Mohr Chevrolet development standards to permit a 36-foot tall pole sign, which I calculated at approximately 158 square feet in area. I want to make one correction on page 2 of the Staff Report under Staff Comments I had been referring to another sign case, the one that we just continued, Stoops Buick saying that the pylon sign was approved. But I later recalled that it had not been approved. It is actually in the process and we just continued it so you can change that sentence to it is pending and I think it would still be accurate.
For this particular request what is relevant I think is this site is a single use site as opposed to an outlot. As you will recall from our Zoning Ordinance, a single use site is permitted more signage than an outlot is. I gave you a table showing that either a pylon sign up to 20 feet tall and 150 square feet or a ground sign up to six feet tall and the same square footage would be permitted on a single use site. One thing to keep in mind is we have an ordinance committee that has been meeting for probably about eight months now. We are drafting new language for sign regulations. The intention is to try and do some loosening up wherever we can. That is certainly not done yet but we anticipate probably in the July time frame that we would have something in front of the Plan Commission for signage. So, what I just read to you, the 150 square feet, for instance, may change and probably would change, if anything, toward the upside to allow a little bit more size for a sign.
Mr. Carlucci asked, what size of sign are they permitted to have?
Mr. Higbee said up to 150 square feet, a 20-foot pylon but I’m just
suggesting within the next 60-90 days that could change somewhat and will probably permit a little bit more sign. But it is still my opinion based on where I perceive the ordinance committee is headed that we are still not going to be recommending pole signs for single use sites or for outlots.
You have a memo, along with this, kind of giving some history of
signage up and down both of our major corridors. As you know, there have been some sign variances where additional signs were removed on the corridor. And there has been some other history that I won’t repeat that is in the memo that you have that could be relevant to what you want to do here tonight. That’s all that I have and I would answer any questions that you have.
Mr. Shrum said for clarification sometimes it refers to a pylon sign
and a pole sign. What is the difference?
Mr. Higbee said a pylon sign under our current ordinance definition,
again, may change a little bit. But today it is basically either a sign that goes all the way to the ground continuously and does not have a pole or we will allow a sign that has a clearance of less than 10 feet from the cabinet to the ground to be classified as a pylon sign. Under the new ordinance we are anticipating that a little bit. When I say new ordinance, that is a little presumptuous because it has not been adopted yet so we are working on it.
Mr. Brian Tuohy an attorney with offices located at 50 S. Meridian said I’m here tonight, as Mr. Higbee said, for BZA-04-006 on behalf Andy Mohr Ford. Here with me tonight is Andy Mohr the owner of the company and Mr. Walker who is the business manager of the company. We appreciate the opportunity to come before you.
As Mr. Higbee said, what we are seeking tonight is a single business
identification sign 36 feet tall with 155 square feet. Mr. Higbee thinks it is 158 square feet and I’m not going to argue over three feet, which is eight or five feet in excess of the allowed limit. We would like that sign set back 32 feet from the right-of-way. This location for this sign is over here on an old map. The State quit printing these maps in 1997 but this is on U.S. 40 so the top here is north. This way would be east toward Indianapolis and here would be west toward the Town. This site is right there and that is the old Cook’s salvage yard. As you can see, in 1997 that land, that almost seven acres of land, was full of salvaged cars. Mr. Mohr has acquired this site and is building a brand new Chevrolet dealership on this site. As I’m sure you are aware, he built a new Ford dealership almost right across the street. So, Mr. Mohr on U.S. 40 west of ADESA has about 14 acres of land where he has two rather large dealerships. This site is located on the north side of U.S. 40 that we are here for tonight and surrounding it, of course, is ADESA, which has all of this land around here. It is completely surrounded by commercial businesses. There is Palm Harbor Homes, there is a racing collectible store here, there is an old veterinary office along here, there is a used car dealership here, there is Supreme Golf right down here with the driving range, there is a Garage Door business here and then there is Westgate Chrysler along here. As you go up along this way, there is the Whitehouse Motel and several businesses, which go into Plainfield Commons. So, the area around this site is not surrounded at all by any residences, it is all commercial uses. So, we have seven acres on this site with almost 600 feet of frontage along U.S. 40. This site has more than two football fields in length along U.S. 40 with only one entrance. I’m going to ask you to turn over to this site plan. If you can just take that and substitute right in there, you can see how the outline of that real estate is about the same as the outline of that site plan. This is what Mr. Mohr proposes to build. In fact, it is well under construction now. It has one entrance, which is at the west end of that site. Mr. Mohr needs this business identification sign for one critical reason that is unique to this property. As you come west on U.S. 40 right here at ADESA, there is a pretty good curve and that curve sends your eyesight looking to the south over by Supreme Golf and to Mr. Mohr’s Ford Dealership. In order to see this site as you are coming west on U.S. 40, he needs a taller than 20 foot sign for a couple of reasons. One that road directs you this way so it is an unique characteristic to this site and two there are a number of businesses right along in here that already have signage and a large trailer mobile home office that sits almost right out on U.S. 40 right there. If I could strain your patience a minute, I would like to play a video that I took on Saturday. I will ask for your understanding that I did this as I was driving so it is not Oscar winning quality. This here, as I started at the ADESA site and I’m going west now, it’s about 8:00 Saturday morning. As you can see now the road is almost heading sort of south/southwest right here and I’m entering that curve. You can see the truck ahead of me. Again, I apologize for the jumping of the camera and you see your vision is directed this way. You are not looking down to the right here at all yet or the north side of the road. Now as it comes around, that’s an automobile place. Here are these other businesses that I mentioned. There’s a car sales place, here is Palm Harbor, here’s their modular housing line. Now you are heading west. There is the Ford Dealership, there’s that trailer or mobile home that I mentioned and here’s Mr. Mohr’s new business. I might ask Mr. Walker to play that one more time please. So, we are starting here by ADESA and we are heading west. As you are going west, you are obviously watching traffic or in my case I was watching my camera, and you would see our eyes pull toward the south because the road is headed that way. Then as you make this turn around here, again you see these businesses over here. That is the entrance to ADESA there. My point is as you are going along there, it will be impossible or next to impossible to see a business identification sign either on the ground or only that is 20 feet on the north side of U.S. 40 as you are coming west. Most of Mr. Mohr’s traffic that comes out here to Plainfield from the west is looking for the site. See right there there is all of this that would block a sign because Mr. Mohr’s sign is set back behind his lights, which are here. So, that sign is back in that area and that mobile home is set well forward of those lights. Those lights, which are the edge of his dealership are north of that mobile home. Back here there is a cluster of businesses. There is Palm Harbor, there is racing collectibles, there is a place to get a car repaired and I believe there is a place even to buy a car. It is sort of like a mini industrial park. That sign will set right back there. If it is only 20 feet tall, it will not be able to be seen above that and the other cluster of signs. It is the sole business identification sign for Mr. Mohr’s business there. So, why do we need a variance? We need a variance because of that curve in the road. It makes this a very unique site and because of the existing cluttered signage on the road and because of that house trailer parked there. This is the only signage that will direct westbound motorists to Andy Mohr Chevrolet.
He has on-building signage but as you can see from that video, his
building is set so far back the road that anybody westbound would not be able to see that on-building signage. They will only be able to see this single sign, which we are requesting. The eastbound traffic, there is no question about it, we will be able to see the on-building signage but the westbound traffic won’t. Mr. Mohr is allowed I believe 464 square feet of on-building signage. He has only asked for 188 square feet. So, for on-building signage he has asked for less than 50% of what he could have on that building. Part of that reason is his pole sign is extremely important. It is a simple sign. I have a photograph of it or a model. It is not a flashing sign. It won’t advertise specials on it. In fact, it only has three words. It has
Chevrolet Andy Mohr and two letters GM. It is a very simple sign. It is similar to what other automobile dealerships have in this business. It is a typical sign for a car dealership. Westgate across the street and Stoops down the street have signage that is very similar.
Under your ordinance there are findings of fact. There are three of
them. One of them is if you find this variance appropriate, it will not cause injury to the public, health, safety or general welfare. I think that is true in this case. I don’t think you can find injury. It actually may be safer. This is a location that as you are heading westbound on U.S. 40, this sign will allow people to see it in time to make that move to the right and get into the deceleration lane and get into the property safely. It is completely surrounded by commercial uses and it is consistent with the other businesses that are along U.S. 40.
Another finding that you need to make is it will not adversely affect
the neighbor’s value. This is a commercial site. If anything, Mr. Mohr has greatly increased the value of surrounding property. He has taken a site that is a salvage yard, and most people would generally agree that is not a good neighbor to have, and with the property across the street invested about 12 million dollars in this community. He employees 150 people and has a payroll of about seven million dollars. Nothing about this sign is going to devalue any of that property around there. In fact, I think it is well viewed that he is responsible for the increase of value around there.
The strict application of the Plainfield Zoning Ordinance is a hardship. I think we need to find that and you can because without that signage it would be difficult for westbound motorists to see this site and other car dealerships in this area have very similar signage.
It is an important petition to Mr. Mohr. It is a request for avariance on a unique site. It is a site that requires a variance in order to be seen by passing motorists only because of that unusual configuration of the road.
Mr. Higbee mentioned sign history and there is some sign history here. Mr. Mohr’s old Ford Dealership had two pole signs. One for new cars and one for used cars and the Ford site right across from this site had a giant billboard on it. Mr. Mohr got rid of all of those signs and put one Ford sign, which was a very simple sign, which says Ford. This site, the Chevy Dealership, had a huge sign on Cook’s Salvage and it had telephone poles that held that sign up. That is gone. His old Chevy Dealership had a new car pole sign and a used car pole sign. So, in some ways there were six signs on these two sites in Mr. Mohr’s businesses and we are narrowing it down to two, one Ford and one Chevrolet. The Chevrolet sign has three words on it and two letters. He will take six signs in two locations and reduce it to two and this one is even more important than the Ford Dealership sign because, as I showed you, your eyes look south as you come around that corner and that is where the bulk of the traffic comes from.
It is a unique site. There is 600 feet of frontage. There is more than two football fields of length on that site. It sets on a curve in the road. It is a very simple sign. I sent out 39 notices for this case. I haven’t seen or heard of any remonstrators and I don’t believe there are any remonstrators here this evening. If there are, I haven’t heard from them. There is no adverse impact and I believe that it meets your findings of fact necessary. He has made a substantial investment in a unique site sitting on a commercial stretch of highway. If there were several businesses in that 600 feet of frontage, they could each have a sign. It is not going to be cluttered with signage. There is going to be this one little sign across the street from one other simple sign. He has made that investment in Plainfield and he is looking forward to opening this store. He would appreciate your consideration of this petition and we would certainly try to answer any questions that you might have.
Mr. Shrum asked, at his present dealership he has a nonconforming pole sign in front of that dealership. If we should look favorably on this variance, would he be willing to remove that pole sign?
Mr. Tuohy asked, at the Ford Dealership or the Chevy Dealership?
Mr. Shrum said the Chevy Dealership.
Mr. Mohr said there was an existing pole sign there at the current
Chevrolet Dealership. We haven’t put that on the table. We looked at
possibly doing something else with that facility, not necessarily a car dealership, and the signage would be nice. We took that sign and fixed it up when we took over that site. I want to say that we took down a big pole sign when we bought the business. There was both a new car and a used car pole sign. We took both of those down and we took down the Cook’s Auto Body or whatever it said and we took down three of those. I’m reluctant to say we are going to take down this other one because we might sell the property if I don’t need it. We just haven’t made a determination what we are going to do with that property and I’m a little concerned about maybe hurting the values of it or something like that. I felt like we had addressed the issue even forgetting the Ford but it is a similar situation we are basically doing away with three pole signs in Town to put up one probably simpler sign.
Mr. Shrum said this particular sign is very close to the right-of-way.
Mr. Mohr said yes it is.
Mr. Shrum said I don’t think it is a very nice sign.
Mr. Mohr said I would probably tend to agree with you. We tried to do
the best we could. When we put our logo and everything on the sign but you are right it is not a great looking sign I would agree with you. The real issue is we have unfortunately but fortunately for us 80% of our clients are outside the Plainfield area. The type of facilities that we built and the land values that we built on just are too large to support this kind of dealership infrastructure that we have put together. Well you say build a smaller place. Well that is fine except you are really not growing your business you are just trying to hang on. As you know, you are either going forward or going backwards there is no hanging on and we have made an effort to spend some really good money and build state-of-the-art places that are unique. It is a great looking facility and so is the Chevy store. But what happens with that is the bulk of that 80% business generally comes from the west side of Indianapolis.
Where we direct and how we direct people is down U.S. 40. One of the
concerns is when you come around that corner, you can’t hardly see the place. Between the signage and the trailer you can’t see it plus the curve. It would probably be in the right-of-way now. But even besides that you have all kinds of collections of signs advertising four or five different businesses. It just makes it very difficult so when we direct a lot of our cliental out to us, go out and you will find the place on the right, well we are concerned that as they are coming around the corner, it is going to be pretty hard to identify exactly where we are. By the time we get our setbacks of the building our signage on the building is almost by the time that they have driven past the facility to be honest with you. We also advertise in Terre Haute pretty strong so we pull people that way also. So, we direct them down SR267. Wal-Mart sounds like it is going to go a little farther east from our site. It would be nice to have that identification from down the road to be able to locate us.
We are still the only new development on the east side of Town. It has been over four and a half years since we have been at the Ford store and nobody has made any major investments in that whole stretch of Town except us. You do have the golf place but that is a pretty basic building. We have put a lot of money in the site and we put a lot of money in the facilities that we build.
I think we have been good for Plainfield. We have worked hard at trying to be a good citizen. We have taken three inferior products that are on that side of the Town. We took an abandoned bowling alley, a motorcycle shop, used car lot, that was one place. We made it into a pretty decent facility even though we don’t like the sign. I understand that. We took an old driving range with all kinds of ramshackled barns and everything else and put a good-looking Ford store on it. Obviously, what we are doing right now is we are doing away with the junkyard. The last time I checked we didn’t do that with any tax abatements or any help from the City. The last time I
checked Avon still has one and they are trying to figure out how to get rid of it. We voluntarily did that on our own and it wasn’t cheap. It was expensive and there was a lot of risk for me to take that piece down. So, we spent a lot of money but I have to protect our business and one of the issues is that it isn’t that I just love pole signs and I’m back in front of you every four years with a new pole sign. This is a unique situation. It is very difficult to see the store especially from the east. Quite frankly that is the bulk of our customers. Don’t get me wrong. We sell a lot in Plainfield but there just isn’t that much of a population to support the kind of
facilities that we build. What we have done is we have gone out and tried to become a destination dealership and we have been successful at it. People drive quite a distance to get to us. Our Ford store is the largest Ford store by far in the State of Indiana. I will be honest with you that when I bought the Ford store eight years ago sitting here in Plainfield, Indiana, I didn’t think we would have the largest Ford store but we are by far the largest.
We do a lot of advertising. As you guys all see, we do all of our
advertising and it says Plainfield in it. We support the community. In almost all of our ads it mentions Plainfield.
He is right we have put together over 12 million dollars in investment in the last four or five years. Actually, if you can add some more money where the Chevy store is that we purchased and fixed up, we spent a lot of money in the Town and feel like we have done the right thing. So, we haven’t gone out haphazard and put up inferior structures or pushed signage issues.
We don’t have signs in our windows. We don’t have flags on our light
poles. Some places push the issue by putting American flags on flagpoles even though that is against the ordinances but it is a tough one for you guys to handle. We don’t do that. We try to play by the rules. If you come in my Ford store or the Chevy store, we have clean businesses and we go out of our way to make sure that we stay that way. It is a little more difficult now with all of the construction at our end but hopefully that will be remedied here real soon.
I stand here with a certain amount of pride to tell you that I think a business like ours gets overlooked a lot in the community. I don’t mind telling you that I’m proud of what we have done here and the kind of investment that we have made. Combined between the two stores that I bought if you took them from the beginning when I purchased them, you are talking about stores that had 23 employees and today we have almost 150 employees. He is right that the payroll is almost seven million dollars. We are a big company and we did all of this unlike a lot of the other big companies that had to be enticed to come here with the tax abatements and other things. We have done this on our own. In fact, last year we paid $231,000.00 in personal/property taxes in Hendricks County. The bulk of that went towards a lot of the schools. Obviously, some of that tax has ended but the fact remains that we have been sitting out here paying those kinds of numbers for eight-nine years and that is a lot of money. As I look at where we are, enough of you know and a lot of you run businesses locally, you solicit a lot for community involvement and we have been a strong supporter. The police department asked us for a truck last year and we gave them a $12,000.00 truck, gratis, no strings attached. We practically sponsor every school sports team and civic group like everybody else does and we do a good job of it.
We took down those two poles at the other dealership and we took down
the Cook pole. I did it in good faith I will be honest because the Cook pole even though I could have left it up through all of the construction it wasn’t in our way. It looked terrible and it drove me crazy. I mean it absolutely looked rotten and we didn’t need it there and I took it down. It had two big telephone poles and all kinds of plywood. It hadn’t been painted in 40 years. I think what we are asking for is merited. The issue of visibility is a concern, not only for the viability of the business, but also for safety. I am concerned about the way that we direct people up and quickly hit their brakes and turn into the dealership once they have seen it. I think it is okay to say again that we took over a junkyard. There was a junkyard there. I can show you pictures of what it was. It wasn’t a pretty scene. In the fact that we have taken down basically three pole signs in exchange for that we have asked for one. Again, I feel pretty strongly it is something that will help our business, it will make the customer especially coming from the east easier for them to find and it will be safer to find us. It is something important I think for us to be able to do business in a decent way. Again, I feel pretty strongly about this. If anybody has any other questions, I would be more than happy to answer them.
Mr. Haase said the setback is 32 feet but the required setback is 26.
Mr. Higbee is that true?
Mr. Higbee said the 36 foot tall sign would require a 42-foot setback.
Mr. Haase said no that is not what I asked. Is the 32 foot setback
that the sign is being asked to sit at is that farther back than any setback that is required for a sign? In other words, if you put up a conforming sign without a variance, how far would the setback have to be?
Mr. Higbee said the 20-foot pylon sign, which is the maximum height you would have to be 26 feet back.
Mr. Haase said so six foot farther back.
Mr. Higbee said right.
Mr. Mohr said to answer Mr. Shrum’s question about the sign I think
this sign is really important to us and I guess I would cross that other bridge when I come to it. I would tell you that if that is necessary, I would go ahead and do away with that sign on that current Chevy property. When we put another business in there, we will figure out what we will do and figure out where the signage goes and go from there. Essentially, if I did that, we would be basically looking at four for one and that seems like a pretty good trade.
Mr. Haase said he has over 600 foot of frontage. If this was an
integrated center, how many signs would be allowed?
Mr. Higbee said as an integrated pole sign I believe it would be two
but I would have to check the ordinance.
Mr. Haase said I think you are right.
Mr. Higbee said if you go over 500 feet, you get another one.
Mr. Haase said but as a single lot, he is not allowed two.
Mr. Higbee said as of today no. Under those proposed revisions, which
we may consider in the next month or two we are talking about allowing a total square footage allowance and then on a site this large with over 500 feet of frontage allowing you to split it up to two signs, if you want to. It could be one sign or it could be two signs.
Mr. Haase said but still the height would be 20 feet.
Mr. Higbee said but again that is not adopted. It hasn’t even been
shown to the Plan Commission yet.
Mr. Carlucci asked, the other signs that you took down are those the
ones that were taken out on the west hill?
Mr. Mohr said yes.
Mr. Carlucci said they were taken down because Chevy required you to
take those down when you left the site or because the site has been reused and purchased. There is a reason that they came down.
Mr. Mohr said they came down because the whole time we were planning on relocating the store. It was our plans from day one to eventually go into the old bowling alley after we fixed that up. Then within the amount of time we couldn’t get done to go onto the Cook’s property and open up a new business there.
Mr. Carlucci said when you sold that business and those signs were
still there, did GM require you to take those signs down when you left? The new owner didn’t need them. I think they have their own sign there now.
Mr. Mohr said there is no business there if that is what you mean. We
were still in business at the same location. We still had both of those signs still you are right. When we came in to ask for that, we were still in business and we had both of those signs up that is correct.
Mr. Carlucci said you had additional signage. You had a billboard sign and two other signs that you controlled and it made that connection a lot easier. This connection is a little bit more spurious because those signs were gone and there is another business in there and you sold the property.
Mr. Mohr said to answer that I would say you can look at a glass half
full or half empty. They came down because we took them down. It was our intention to go to a new site and if at all possible, have two new signs. The same signs that are in storage and bring them to this site. We took them down because we weren’t doing business there but our intentions were to relocate as soon as possible where we currently are. Whether they came down now or not I don’t see really what the difference is.
Mr. Carlucci said taking signs down is a pretty big issue in Plainfield because we are involved in a court case on one right now.
Mr. Mohr said I would just say that we took them down because I think
we did it in good faith and did the right thing. They were going to come down and we took them down and we took down the Cook’s sign. I think we did the right thing. I don’t know if we shouldn’t have done it then and left them up.
Mr. Haase said I think Mr. Mohr understood that what used to be the
bowling alley would be a far superior location to where he was on the west edge of Town. I’m surprised when he went there, that General Motors didn’t ask him to come in here to move that sign from out here to the bowling alley and take that noncomplying sign down. I figured that they would have requirements.
Mr. Mohr said to be honest they were all over us about that.
Mr. Haase said I would think they would be from my understanding of the auto industry. My other understanding is that they actually own those signs.
Mr. Mohr said General Motors does.
Mr. Haase said Ford does too.
Mr. Mohr said no we own the Ford. There are circumstances where we own the signs today and it is different.
Mr. Haase said it depends on how the lease reads today.
Mr. Mohr said yes.
Mr. Monnett said on the General Motors sign they saw your site plan for the Chevrolet Dealership. Do they have specific signs that they design for you for that site or that is the one that they said here this is where you need to put this?
Mr. Mohr said that is correct. That is a Chevrolet approved sign.
Mr. Carlucci said just so you know they can recommend that but it is
still subject to local zoning.
Mr. Tuohy said there was a question earlier about a pylon and a pole
sign. I didn’t orchestrate this but this sign according to the sign company is a pylon sign. I realize your ordinance doesn’t match up but I asked the sign company what do you call a pylon sign and what do you call a pole sign? He said a pole sign is easy. That is a sign and the ordinance does show this. It just has a monopole down the center. He said a pylon sign is a sign that has more than one base to it and more than one monopole. I just bring that up because earlier it was talked about whether this was a pylon or a pole sign. The sign folks think it is a pylon sign and your ordinance I believe thinks it is a pole sign.
Mr. Haase asked, the square footage of this sign is that calculated by the sign surface area and not the open area below the GM?
Mr. Tuohy said yes sir from there up. And Mr. Higbee comes up with 158 feet and I came up with a 155 feet. I think we are in the ballpark.
Mr. Higbee said the scale on that plan is not that precise so you have to make some assumptions so a few square feet is understandable. We tried to scale it and it didn’t come out very well scaled.
Mr. Tuohy said if you just use the message part of the sign, it is
considerably below 150 feet. It may be 10 or so feet below that. If you just use the 2 ½ by 2 ½ GM and this and this you are in the 129 or something range square feet so you would be 20 some feet under.
Mr. Matrana asked, is there anyone in the audience who would have
anything to say about this public hearing?
Mr. Bud Green at 535 Sundown Circle, Plainfield, Indiana said Mr. Mohr didn’t even know I was going to be here tonight. I would speak in favor of their petition and I speak from the basis of industry knowledge in having represented several dealers in several cases. I guess I would like to make one other point. Mr. Mohr is right. He has made a serious serious commitment to this Town. He has really improved the image of our area on East Main Street. So, that you know what issues are coming down the road we currently have another dealer who has been in this Town since the early 50s, the business has, the current owner 14 years, who is spending about four million dollars also in Plainfield where these same issues may come about. We have a new dealer in Town, Hubler Mazda spending serious money. There are plans going down the road for some others that are coming. This is an issue that you gentlemen are going to face. I submit that the auto dealers of this community, as a group, provide tax revenue, employment, services to this community and support to this community. Mr. Mohr has always been there when I go knocking on his door for the chamber of commerce. So, is Jim Meyers. So, is Hubler. So, is Westgate. I submit to you that these gentlemen, as a group, are an important financial resource for this community and one that needs your consideration for an issue just such as this one. As Mr. Tuohy said, there is no harm and no foul in this particular request for a variance.
Mr. Matrana asked, is there anyone else in the audience who would care to speak on this variance? Being no one coming forward I would like to close the public portion of this meeting and open this variance request up to the board for discussion or a motion.
Mr. Tuohy said just to clarify one issue to make sure that it is clear we would enter into a commitment, if this was passed, to remove those other signs that Mr. Shrum mentioned. I just wanted to make sure that was part of the record.
Mr. Matrana said I understood that you were talking to Mr. Shrum
earlier and did say that you would do that. Thank you for making it clearer.
Mr. Shrum made a motion to approve BZA-04-006 subject to the following conditions:
Subject to substantial compliance with the sign location plan,
landscape plan and sign renderings file dated February 13, 2004.
That the proposed sign shall not exceed over 30 feet in height.
If the petitioner objects to that, I would withdraw the motion.
Mr. Tuohy said there is no objection.
Second by Mr. Haase.
Mr. Matrana asked, did you want to add removing the old sign as part of the motion?
Mr. Shrum said no they already committed to do that.
Roll call vote called.
Mr. Monnett – yes
Mr. Blevins – yes
Mr. Shrum – yes
Mr. Haase – yes
Mr. Matrana – yes
5-ayes, 0-opposed, 0-absent.
Mr. Higbee said BZA-04-008 Mi Hacienda Restaurant is a special
exception use to permit the serving of alcohol. It is in a tenant space that you might recall had a deli at the far end of the center where Wal-Mart is. I guess it has been vacant for some time. You have a floor plan in your packet that shows 65 seats in booths. It would be family seating. I always check parking on these types of things and I noted that 22 parking spaces are required. What I have access to is an overall parking plan for the whole development. So, I’m making an assumption that 22 parking spaces are there and available in combination with what is required for the other tenants nearby.
They have gone through a permit process with the Alcoholic Beverage
Commission. I think they are at least part way through that approval. Maybe they can come up and verify exactly where they are on their approval processes there. They are close to the multi-family areas to the south, which anytime you have residential near this type of facility I have to point it out to you. In this particular case the multi-family buildings are probably several hundred feet away. So, I don’t see any kind of immanent impact on this facility out in that area.
I noted several questions in my Staff Comment section, which you might want to look at and I would be happy to answer any questions that you have.
Mr. Haase asked, if they would get approval for this special exception, would it be that they have gotten these permits required from the Alcoholic Beverage Commission?
Mr. Higbee said you could make that a condition of your approval.
There is something in your packet about that. I don’t know if that
constitutes a complete approval or not but they can verify that when they come up.
Mr. Matrana said it looks like a copy of their license or permit.
Mr. Haase asked, is that all they have to have?
Mr. Higbee said I don’t know but they can tell you that.
Ms. Kimberly Huizinga with Ramirez Law Firm in Indianapolis said I’m
here tonight to represent Mi Hacienda. We are here applying for a special exception. To answer your question we have successfully been approved for the permit by the ATC. That actually came through last week. Everything is approved and you have a copy of the actual permit I believe in your packet.
Mr. Haase asked, when did that get approved?
Ms. Huizinga said I believe it was last week but I didn’t bring the
permit with me but it should say right on there.
Mr. Haase asked, this is an actual copy of the permit?
Ms. Huizinga said yes it is sir.
Mr. Haase asked, is that the only one required?
Ms. Huizinga said yes. We have been through the entire process with
ATC, which is similar to what is required here in Plainfield. So, we have been through that complete process and now we are going through this one.
Mr. Matrana asked, are you building a new restaurant or are you taking the place of an older one?
Ms. Huizinga said I believe as he explained it was previously a deli
and we are just leasing out the space and putting in a Mexican restaurant there. Actually, it is opened for business today. They are not allowed to sell alcohol but tonight is the first day that it has been opened. So, everything is complete as far as the seating and decorations and they are serving food today actually. Just as a side note obviously we completed the construction inspections and everything else that was required in order for us to obtain the other permits that were required for us to open. So, we have satisfied all permits that we know about in order to make sure that we are in compliance with Plainfield.
Mr. Matrana said this is a public meeting. At this time I would like
to ask if there was anyone in the audience who would like to speak either for or against the alcohol permit at Mi Hacienda? Being no one coming forward I would like to close the public portion of the meeting and open this up to the board for discussion or a possible motion.
Mr. Monnett made a motion to approve BZA-04-008 request a special
exception use to serve alcohol at a restaurant at 2531 E. Main Street subject to the following condition.
Subject to substantial compliance with the seating layout and
letter of intent file dated March 5, 2004.
Second by Mr. Haase. Roll call vote called.
Mr. Monnett – yes
Mr. Blevins – yes
Mr. Shrum – yes
Mr. Haase – yes
Mr. Matrana – yes
5-ayes, 0-opposed, 0-absent. Motion carried.
Mr. Higbee said BZA-04-010, Plainfield Community School Corporation is a special exception variance request for soccer field lights. I showed you on your map on page 1 the approximate location of the soccer field and where the lights would be. You also have in your packet a photometric plan that shows an aerial map with some photometric measurements. There would be four light poles, two on either side of the field facing east and west. As is typical for schools and parks that area is zoned residential and then you have residential neighborhoods to the east and west. So, those lights will face the residential neighborhoods. The one to the west is across the street and at least a few hundred feet away and the one to the east is farther away, I guess about 1,000 feet. The zoning is either R-1 or R-3. I had a little trouble reading our zone map and that is why you see different designations in the report. It is not germane to the discussion so it is residential and what the ordinance says for residential zoning is when the light hits the property line, it can’t exceed half a foot-candle if there is residential on the other side of that property line. In looking at that aerial that you have with the photometric measurements on it I estimated where the property line is. I don’t know that it was real clear on that drawing where it was but it looked like it was more in the range of about 0.5 foot candles as you cast light over into Swinford Park, which is also zoned residential. I didn’t think personally that even though that is an ordinance violation that was the major concern. I thought the major concern was the east and west facing lights and the glare affect on the adjacent neighborhoods. So, I talked to Gene Valanzano and he sent me some standards on this type of lighting. The big thing in those standards was glare control. What do you do to control glare for this type of lighting? Then I talked to Mr. Custer with the lighting company and I read the scope of work, which you have in your documentation too, and he convinced me that there is a glare control package. As a matter of fact, it is referred to in that scope of work. I was told verbally that 95% of the glare is eliminated by louvers that are built into these lights when they are delivered to the site. They are already set with that glare control in them. It is hard to know what that would really look like until you see it. That was my concern but what you are going to see is a 70-foot tall pole with 18 lights per pole, two facing east and two facing west. But again they would have that glare control package in place.
The other issue that kind of comes up with this kind of thing is when
are the lights going to be on? Will they go off at 10:00 p.m. or 11:00 p.m. or what? A letter was given to me before the hearing today indicating that they would be off by 11:00 p.m., which is the same curfew imposed on the baseball lights at Hummel Park. That is all that I have.
Mr. Carlucci said they will go off sooner than our lights in Swinford
Mr. Higbee said I noticed that they were on quite late on a recent
Mr. Tim Jackson, Superintendent of the Plainfield Schools at 7711
Andrew Pass, Plainfield said as Mr. Higbee mentioned, we would like to light our soccer fields, which are now at the high school. We built that site about four years ago. We did not light it, however. Soccer has grown in popularity here as every place else. Our team has had some very very successful seasons the last two or three years. Quite frankly there has been a lot of pressure on us to light those fields. Several of our parents have concerns that we cannot host tournaments. In fact, our games have to start so early that the parents can’t get to many of the games and it is very difficult to have games back to back. I’m not a soccer player but I understand that is very important. It is easier to hire officials. Officials are more likely to come to an event if they can officiate in two games than to travel to one game and leave so it is to their benefit. So, there are a lot of reasons to light the fields. I don’t know a lot about the lighting levels but Mr. Banning is going to talk about the spillage and any discussions that you may have on lighting levels.
Mr. Banning with Banning Engineering at 698 Tower Road, Suite 100,
Plainfield said I have been telling Mr. Higbee for probably a month now that I have this great picture that shows the spillage of lights. I could have sworn up and down it was in the brochures that you have and then I found out that the brochures were actually different from what we submitted originally. I looked at that with Mr. Higbee in his office last week and that picture wasn’t in there either. It dawned on me that it was actually the lighting consultant’s brochure. I was going to show Mr. Higbee this and then I will pass it around because this is really amazing as to what this type of lighting actually is. It is this photo in the upper left hand corner. When I saw this product early on, I was totally amazed. Mr. Higbee alluded to being out driving around last week and we actually walked and drove around Town looking at lighting. We saw very good examples of good lighting and not so good lighting. I’m very comfortable now with seeing what we saw when we were out and about as well as this brochure and the documents that we presented that this is definitely the way to go. What the specs actually say is one and a half foot candles at a 200-foot distance from the poles themselves. So, that is affectively what you would see. I really think the one and a half is probably a high number after we have gone out and observed some of the lighting around Town. I think it is pretty obvious looking at that that this is going to be a great addition from the standpoint of lighting and very affective in what we are trying to get accomplished, which is basically an average of 45-foot candles on the field itself. That is an acceptable lighting requirement for this type of facility. I can go on and on but I won’t. I will open it up to any questions and comments and we will go from there.
Mr. Carlucci asked, what was the one-foot candle on that one gas
station in Town?
Mr. Banning said there was one up to 160-180.
Mr. Higbee said we went to two gas stations. One of them surprisingly
had 160-foot candles under the canopy and I’m currently considering
enforcement on that. Then another new station in Town was 45 and I’m
standing under it going I can see just fine at 45-foot candle so why does that other one need 160.
Mr. Banning said it is amazing looking at the Target parking lot verses the Kohl’s parking lot verses others. It is really amazing the differences. I think after our meeting really the glare is probably more of an issue and how the light fixture either sets below the lens.
Mr. Higbee said on parking lots it is usually the case. The flat
fixture makes a huge difference. In this particular case with the soccer field lights the reason that I stated that I thought that the spillage to the south, where it is too high, is an issue is because of Swinford Park. It is not a residential neighborhood. If there was a house right on the other side of the property line, I probably wouldn’t be saying 0.5-foot candles is acceptable. But when you have a parking lot and nobody is there and lights are in the park anyway, I didn’t think that was near as a significant issue as the glare and they have done a lot with glare control here.
Mr. Matrana asked, how many foot-candles are required to read a
newspaper? Do you have any idea?
Mr. Higbee said Mr. Banning has done a lot of research so I will let
him tell you what he found out.
Mr. Matrana asked, is it 0.5 candles or one-half?
Mr. Banning said let me say just to give you a baseline a full moon is one foot candle. And a foot-candle is defined basically as a horizontal reading three feet off of the ground. The lighting of a candle is basically a foot away. That is the way that I understand it. So, one-foot candle is a full moon. As we were walking through some of these parking lots, they were getting below two-foot candle and I could not read the light meter. I’m going to say somewhere probably in the three to five range maybe.
Mr. Higbee said for comparison we were standing on the sidewalk in
front of a new facility in the Town Center. The measurement there was about 0.5-foot candles and I think you could read there. It wouldn’t be extremely light but you would be able to read a piece of paper like this if you were standing under a 0.5 foot candle with no problem. So, somewhere between two and five things become readable based on our judgment.
Mr. Matrana said thank’s for the brochure. I enjoyed seeing that. This is a public meeting. Would anybody in the audience have anything to say for or against the soccer lighting proposal tonight? Being no one coming forward the public portion of this meeting is closed and the Chair would entertain a motion on BZA-04-010.
Mr. Haase made a motion to approve the special exception and variance
of development standards request BZA-04-010 subject to the following
Substantial compliance with the photometric plan, lighting
elevation and scope of work document file dated 3/18/04 thru
The lights shall not operate later than 11:00 p.m. without
approval from the director of the Planning Department.
Second by Mr. Shrum. Roll call vote called.
Mr. Monnett – yes
Mr. Blevins – yes
Mr. Shrum – yes
Mr. Haase – yes
Mr. Matrana – yes
5-ayes, 0-opposed, 0-absent.
Mr. Haase said Mr. Monnett asked me about the yellow ribbon committee. I was explaining to him but Mr. Jackson may further talk about the status of the yellow ribbon committee. We completed our task at hand but could you inform us of what the conclusions were briefly and then where we are headed?
Mr. Jackson said the yellow ribbon task force is made up of citizens
from 13 communities plus administrative staff and architects to provide the legwork. The committee members would ask questions about the demographic information and we would pull that information together. But the panel of the yellow ribbon task force was 13 citizens. After a lot of study the Plainfield Community School Corporation recommended to the board that the board consider building a new high school for 1,600 students. We should be in that high school sometime in 2007 and 2008. That the site be sized for and a building designed, the core of the building, for an expansion to 2,200 students 20 years out at a minimum. That number was reached based on studies conducted by our architect. If the current pattern of residential development continues, our current pattern and our current growth, what would happen when the community is totally built out.
Mr. Haase said and as long as the State still provided the same
guidelines for the students.
Mr. Jackson said that is right, the same staffing recommendations and
same budget constraints that we are under now. We calculated that our
maximum build out would be about 2,200 students using those guidelines. That is why that the committee recommended the core areas would be the hallways and cafeteria be sized for the 2,200 but we would build classrooms for 1,600 and then we could add to the classroom space at a future date. In addition, the committee recommended that we build a new kindergarten center. That the kindergarten center be built with full day kindergarten in mind. The State of Indiana, the General Assembly has toyed with full day kindergarten now for at least the last five years. Under better economic conditions it almost passed about five years ago and even under the bad economic conditions we are facing right now it just about passed this year. So, it is our feeling that full day kindergarten will be with us sometime in the near future. That would mean that our kindergarten facility would double from its current size. If we didn’t grow at all, we would still double in square footage. The committee recommended that the kindergarten stay as a separate building. Right now it is attached to the high school. The committee also recommended that the current high school be converted to the middle school. That would solve a lot of land problems that we have right now. Our current middle school is land locked just as the high school is land locked. Our current high school sits on 40 acres. A high school today should be on 100 acres. Avon is on 106. Brownsburg is buying 100 acres north of Brownsburg. So, a high school should sit on 100 acres. I’m trying to remember the acreage at the middle school but I believe it is right around 20. That is on a very restricted site.
Mr. Haase said a lot of that can’t be built on.
Mr. Jackson said that is right because it is in a floodplain and
floodway, the east of that building. So, we have to take our students off site, their athletic events. So, that would provide for more square footage and more acreage for the middle school and then we would convert the current middle school to an intermediate school, grades 4 and 5. So, some people have talked to us, not objecting but surprised why it’s not just the high school but it is all of the grades expanding to force the high school to be the issue. We would then end up when it is all finished with grades one through three that are three elementary; kindergarten in a separate facility; four and five at the current middle school; six, seven and eight at the current high school; nine through 12 at the new high school.
Mr. Haase said there are a lot of intricacies that guys like me don’t
understand about when you put certain grades together, you get a certain amount of teachers and an expansion within those grades. You don’t have to add that many more teachers, if you have all of those teachers concentrated in one building as opposed to several.
Mr. Jackson said the board is taking the recommendation of the task
force right now and they plan to hold a public hearing June 17. We didn’t want to do it at a regular board meeting. We wanted to do it at a special meeting so we could advertise and get as many advertisements out as we could so that anyone who wanted to speak to the issue could do so. So, it will probably be June 17 that we would have the public hearing. We meet tomorrow morning with the owners of New Castle Modular Classrooms. As you have seen in Avon and Brownsburg and other schools, when you grow and reach your capacity, you start putting modular units out. I was here about four years ago and we added two modular units at the middle school. Those are off site now. We will be coming back whenever we can get on the agenda again to talk about modular units at Brentwood Elementary. We need to expand our preschool kindergarten, children three through five who have special needs. That program is growing. We now have 40 students in the regular program plus 10 who have speech therapy. So, we have 50 students involved and that program has outgrown its square footage. So, we will probably add three modular units to Brentwood with your approval. After the new kindergarten center is built the modular units would stay there and be used for expansion for the elementary grades.
Mr. Higbee said there is no old business unless you want to discuss the memo that you were given on signage but there is nothing current.
Mr. Haase said the only thing that I would like to discuss under old
business is I keep seeing DRC business crop up on our report. I think the board indicated that we didn’t want to see that.
Mr. Higbee said what I’m putting in there isn’t a recommendation to
BZA. It is information about history of what is going on with pending
Mr. Haase said I don’t think we care about what the DRC says.
Mr. Higbee said I will be happy to take that out. My philosophy was
any board would get full information about pending approvals of any other so that they know what is going on in Town in general. That is what I was after.
Mr. Haase said I think I heard from the BZA we don’t want to see it.
Mr. Higbee asked, are you just saying DRC items?
Mr. Haase said just the DRC items.
Mr. Higbee said I could just say instead we have an item pending at the Plan Commission and not even mention DRC. Would that work?
Mr. Haase said I don’t know. We will see as long as it doesn’t say
Mr. Haase made a motion to adjourn. Second by Mr. Monnett. Motion
Mr. Rick Matrana, President