The Canal Winchester Times

Fixari Family Dental

Technicality zaps variance request for new sign

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After a second hearing, a 3-2 vote last week by the Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Commission in favor of the application still wasn't enough to secure approval for a new monument sign for Fixari Family Dental.

According to commission President Bill Christensen, a majority vote of all members is required to approve a zoning variance. However, two of the seven members, Jennifer Lynch and Jim Knowlton, were absent from the Feb. 11 meeting and thus were unable to vote on the variance.

For this reason, even though only Christensen and commission member Mike Vasko dissented, their two votes ultimately prevented the three "yes" votes from approving the variance.

Fixari Family Dental, 6441 Winchester Blvd., had requested a variance that would have allowed for a 50-square-foot monument sign with no setback from the right of way. Fixari representative Ryan Srbljan said this was necessary in order to provide adequate visibility.

According to Canal Winchester Development Director Lucas Haire, the original survey from which Srbljan developed the signage plan did not include a utility easement, which would need to be avoided during construction of the new sign.

"I was originally involved in the design phase of this and wasn't aware of the easement," Srbljan said.

"We can fix this on a finalized drawing that we think could be administratively approved just by staff so we don't have to come back for yet another meeting," he added. "We won't put the sign over a utility easement because the owner wouldn't have any recourse if the utility company came and bulldozed it."

Vasko said he didn't feel comfortable approving a variance for a sign of this size, even though it conforms to the recently updated sign requirements in the Old Town Overlay, along with no setback.

"If you want us to give you a variance to the setback, which is going to be less than the required 15 feet, then you don't need as large of a sign, which is why I want to know what the real setback is going to be since it could be anywhere from eight to 12 feet," Vasko said.

Christensen agreed.

"I think it's going to look like a billboard sitting there," he said.

Haire said the staff recommendation allowing for the 50-square-foot sign with no setback from any utility easement and right of way was based on the character of the other signs in the area and the current zoning requirements.

Srbljan then said his discussions with Andrew Dutton, who vacated the position of city planning and zoning administrator Jan. 31, concluded that because the 50-square-foot sign is within code now, the only variance concern would be in regard to the setback.

"We scaled the sign down from 63 square feet so that we wouldn't be asking for variances on both," Srbljan said. "Our intent isn't to put up something excessive in size but something that works on the parcel, but we at least want to maintain what code provides for."

According to Haire, a new application with an updated drawing can be resubmitted or the applicant can appeal the planning commission decision to Canal Winchester City Council.

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