The Landmarks Commission voted unanimously Jan. 23 to table action on requests from Huntington Bank for zoning variances that would allow changes to signs at its branch at 37 S. High St.

The Landmarks Commission voted unanimously Jan. 23 to table action on requests from Huntington Bank for zoning variances that would allow changes to signs at its branch at 37 S. High St.

The zoning variance applications were the first filed since the city decided to give the commission oversight of zoning in the Canal Winchester's Historic District.

"I think this is going to be a bit of a challenge," Landmarks Commission chairman Patrick Lynch said. "We're being presented with a lot of information from the city, which makes these issues clearer. I think the change - giving Landmarks the focus on zoning for the historic area - is very appropriate. It lets zoning do what they're experts in while we focus on preservation."

Bob Schorr of DaNite Sign Co. represented Huntington at the Jan. 23 meeting. In addition to three zoning variances, the bank is seeking approval of a certificate of appropriateness.

"This is a different review for you than normal because there isn't much about preservation. This is more about zoning variance," city economic development director Lucas Haire said, explaining the requirements for evaluating zoning applications to the commission.

Currently, Huntington has illuminated signs on the front and rear of the building, non-illuminated signs on the side of the building and a freestanding monument sign in front of the building, as well as directional signage to assist moving traffic through the bank parking lot and drive-through teller lanes.

"We want to remove the existing signs over the doorways and redo those panels with an aluminum panel to match the aluminum window trim," Schorr said. "We'll take individual letters at the top of the building and use the gooseneck-style lighting to illuminate them."

Huntington officials proposed a replacement freestanding monument sign as well. According to Haire, the monument sign requires a 15-foot setback from the road, but as proposed, only has a 12-goot setback. The sign measures 42 square feet but, per the Historic District guidelines, may not exceed nine square feet.

City zoning code also limits building signs to two sides of a building. However, Huntington wants signs on three sides of the building, all of which exceed the permitted size, Haire said.

"Based on the preservation guidelines, you're only allowed one sign, and that's nine square feet per side," Lynch said. "I think the elimination of the freestanding sign altogether will make it a lot more likely to get the 22-square-foot signs on the three sides of the building."

Schorr said if the Landmarks Commission were not going to approve the current plan, Huntington was requesting that the applications be tabled and that the company receive feedback about the proposal.

Landmarks Commission members agreed that the number of signs, particularly the monument sign, is not acceptable.

"I want to see an actual scale plan," Lynch said. "I think the street signs and drive-through signs are fine, but somehow the ATM sign already increased from small letters on the front to large ATM signs on three sides, and I'd say 'enough.'"

Huntington is expected to present an updated proposal at the Landmarks Commission's Feb. 27 meeting. It is scheduled at 7 p.m at Town Hall, 10 N. High St.