Worthington News

Residents want MAC to have sign, just not electronic one

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A temporary sign placed in front of the McConnell Arts Center over the weekend, May 3-4, received mostly negative feedback during a May 4 public meeting.

An electronic sign in front of the McConnell Arts Center would be distracting to drivers, obtrusive to neighbors and not at all in keeping with the character of Worthington.

Those were some of the opinions shared by approximately 20 people who attended a public meeting at the MAC on Sunday afternoon, May 4.

With a test sign flashing messages in front of the MAC over the weekend, the crowd gathered inside to let MAC leaders know what they think about the latest proposal to place an electronic, changeable-copy sign in front of the arts center, on West Granville Road at Evening Street, on the grounds of Thomas Worthington High School.

The sign as proposed would sit atop a 4-foot-tall brick base. The changing copy would inform passersby of the offerings, programs and exhibits at the MAC.

Approximately 17,000 vehicles a day pass the center. Letting them know about the MAC would help get the word out about what the MAC is and what it offers, director Jon Cook said.

Sometimes people tell him they did not know Worthington has an arts center, he said. The point of the sign would be brand recognition and advertisement of what is at the MAC.

"We're not expecting people to slam on their brakes and turn in and buy a ticket," he said at the meeting. "This will be a gateway to learning what is going on."

Most of those in attendance had positive things to say about the center and said they believe a sign is necessary. They just don't want an electronic sign.

Nearby residents said the lights would shine onto their homes.

A man who lives across the street said it would be visible from five rooms in his house and from his porch and would decrease his property value.

Others said the sign would distract drivers, causing even more accidents on the busy state route.

The MAC also has been accepting online comments about the proposed sign. Twenty-eight people had responded by Sunday. Sixty percent said they would like to see a sign. Seventeen people said they would support one of the electronic options, with two saying they would prefer a non-electronic, changeable-copy sign.

Those in favor of the electronic sign said they liked the modern look and that it would allow the transmission of the maximum amount of information to the public about what events at the MAC.

Others, like those who attended the meeting, said the sign is not appropriate in Worthington, especially in a residential neighborhood.

"I am strongly opposed to an electronic sign, which creates more light pollution and uses more energy," one respondent wrote. "Also, a scrolling electronic sign reminds me of Times Square -- not what I want to see in my neighborhood."

The input from the website and the meeting will be presented to the MAC board of trustees, which will decide how to proceed.

If a decision is made to pursue the sign, the Worthington Board of Education must approve because it owns the land on which the MAC sits.

The sign also would go before the city's Architectural Review Board and the Board of Zoning Appeals for approvals.

Worthington currently doesn't allow electronic signs, but the BZA could grant a variance for one.

Columbus is considering new legislation that would permit such signs, with conditions. Standards being considered would cover the size of the signs, how often the copy could change, brightness and hours of operation.