Northland News

NCC development committee

Panel rejects sign request, agrees to density change

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The Northland Community Council's development committee cast two unanimous votes last week, one against a sign request from Atlas Butler Heating and Cooling and another in favor of a density variance for a Lifestyles Communities project being built at 5367 Thompson Road.

The Columbus Graphics Commission will review an Atlas Butler request for signs at a building at 4849 Evanswood Drive, even though the development committee unanimously recommended against approval of the signs.

Atlas Butler hopes to purchase the former Max & Erma's office building on Evanswood Drive, adjacent to state Route 161, said company owner Mark Swepston. He said the building is challenging because it is 48,000-square-feet with limited parking.

'We will have 110 employees there and we want to add 20 more in the next year,' Swepston said.

The company is requesting permission to create murals on the south and west sides of the building: a gray background with the image of a butler in black. The company name will not appear in the mural, only the logo.

The company also is requesting permission for a 450-square-foot LED sign to be placed on the roof that could display the company name and different messages for customers. The signs require variances from Columbus city code because of their size and placement, said attorney Jeffrey L. Brown of Smith and Hale.

Committee chair Dave Paul said the committee had no issues with the murals but could not recommend approval of the application because of the LED sign. The vote was 15-0 against the application.

Brown said the signs would not be out of character because of other creative-company signs in the area.

Emmanuel Remy, a committee member representing the Northland Community Council, said he is OK with the murals but has concerns about an LED sign of that size on the building's roof. He said if Atlas Butler moves out and an adult entertainment facility moves in, the sign would remain.

William Logan, a committee member who represents the Karmel Woodward Park Civic Association, agreed, saying the sign is too large and could be a distraction for motorists driving on state Route 161.

'You're wanting this committee to agree to approve an LED sign without limiting graphic content because you're trying to be visible to people traveling 65 miles per hour on 161,' Logan said.

Brown said there are other examples of LED signs in Columbus near busy highways. He said more requests for LED signs will come before the board because it is the latest technology. He said city code does restrict the number of messages that can be displayed and how long messages are displayed.

Swepston said without the roof sign, the company name will not be visible from part of the freeway.

In other business, the committee unanimously approved a change in the Lifestyles Communities project being built at 5367 Thompson Road. Paul said the variance allows fewer single-family homes to be built on the site.

Brown, who also represented Lifestyle Communities at the meeting, said the development includes 19.41 acres with 298 multi-family units; 24.615 acres with 2,221 multi-family units and 32 single-family homes; and 56.487 acres with 581 multi-family units. He said the property owner, the New Albany Co., did not purchase as much land as expected and has to reduce the number of single-family homes built on the site.

The original site plan included the same densities for the 24.615-acre and the 56.487-acre piece. The third piece was expected to include 430 multi-family and single-family homes on 55 acres.

'This will be over-dense now by eliminating the single-family homes that were there to balance it out,' said Alicia Ward, who represents the Cooperwoods Condominium Association.

Ward asked about the density of the 19.41-acre piece; Brown said density would increase from 12 to 15.4 units per acre with the change.

After closed-door deliberations, committee members voted 15-0 in favor of recommending the change. The application will be forwarded to the Columbus Board of Zoning Adjustment.

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