Officials with United Dairy Farmers want to replace the existing signs displaying the price of gasoline at two stores in Clintonville with electronic ones.

Officials with United Dairy Farmers want to replace the existing signs displaying the price of gasoline at two stores in Clintonville with electronic ones.

"We oppose it," Nancy Stewart, a member of the Sharon Heights Community Association, said of the request for the UDF at 5370 N. High St.

It's not this sign so much, she said, as the slippery-slope possibilities posed by electronic displays, which Stewart pointed out are expressly forbidden in the commercial overlay for her area of North Clintonville.

"Our concern is if the first business in our area gets electronic lighting, how do we prevent other businesses from getting it?" Stewart said last week.

The UDF store at 3388 Indianola Ave. is also in line for an electronic sign, if the Clintonville Area Commission and city graphics commission consent to a variance.

The dual requests were heard at last month's zoning and variance committee meeting, but not at the subsequent session of the full commission.

That was because, chairman John DeFourny explained, representatives of Branham Sign Co. had gotten the name of the church where the committee meeting was being held wrong and weren't on hand last month to respond to concerns from residents.

The variances were scheduled to come before zoning and variance again this week, this time with the sign company personnel present, and the applications are on the agenda for this evening's CAC session, which starts at 7 in the Whetstone Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

A vote taken at the Aug. 2 session of P&Z recommended 5-1 against approval.

The lone vote in favor of the variance was cast by Sandy Simbro, former longtime chairwoman of the committee who voluntarily stepped down recently in favor of District 5 CAC representative Nick Cipiti.

Stewart claimed that Simbro stated she didn't care if the request violated the commercial overlay for that section of North High Street.

"Which was shocking for one who was in charge to say she didn't care what the overlay said," Stewart said.

It's not that she doesn't care, Simbro said in response. It's just that the reason there are procedures in place for seeking variances from city regulations is that sometimes they're justified.

"I just look at it as a normal process," Simbro said. "Does this mean that I am in favor carte blanche of electronic signs up and down High Street? No.

"I know that the Clintonville plan and that portion of High Street recommends against electronic signs. But when I think of an electronic sign, I think of something that flashes and changes daily."

That's not the case with the electronic signs, which would be the exact same size as the existing ones, which must be changed manually, she said.

Simbro added that she made her decision after viewing photos of the new electric gas pricing sign for a UDF on King Avenue.

"I didn't find it any more intrusive than a regular lighted sign," she said. "Exactly what's there now. The only difference is it's LED lights instead of red letters on a white background.

A pricing sign that can be adjusted electronically from inside the store is simply a convenience, the committee member said.

"It's been part of our lives for a long time," Simbro said. "The price of gasoline at 8 o'clock this morning and 10 o'clock this morning and noon can be three different prices."

"Once you go against your overlay it's hard to stop it from happening again," Stewart said.

The Sharon Heights Community Association did not take a position regarding the electronic sign sought for the Indianola Avenue location of the convenience store chain.

"We don't want to tell other areas what they should do," Stewart said.