Airport sign denied by Plymouth BZA

PLYMOUTH — It’s back to the drawing board for the Plymouth Aviation Board if it wants BZA (Board of Zoning Appeals) approval for signs at the airport.
Airport Manager Dave Lattimer and Aviation Board President Tom Flynn appeared before the BZA Tuesday night seeking a variance from the development standard to increase the sign area from 32 square feet to 119 square feet for a monument sign. The sign — designed by Vanadco Signs of Argos — would measure 17 feet high.
The BZA Board considered the matter and then voted unanimously to deny the application.
It was noted in the meeting that Aviation can come back with a new application as soon as next month when the BZA will meet again, but only if they change the type of signage.
A monument sign is built as a solid structure from the ground up as opposed to a pole sign that has supports coming from ground level and signage attached on top.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) had approved the height and dimensions of the sign in mid-June of this year, but BZA members weren’t swayed.
Keith Hammonds, Plymouth Building Inspector, said there is a regulated ditch along Michigan Road and any signs would have to be back 75 feet. Lattimer agreed with that distance and indicated that the size of the two-sided sign they were proposing was to allow people to see it from the road. He also said the terrain where they wanted to erect the sign dipped down making it important to increase the size.
Flynn told the BZA that he felt that the aviation board should add the names of businesses that lease space at the airport and cited the need for a larger sign to accommodate them.
City Planner Bill Neal disagreed saying, “You want to panelize for tenants. That’s crazy. They (businesses) are going to say they are at the airport.”
BZA Board member Mark Gidley expressed his dismay that the Aviation Board was seeking the variance. Gidley said, “I have a problem with a city department asking for a variance from our city standards.”
Gidley also questioned why there was no picture of the proposed sign attached to the application. Chad Bailey, account executive for Vanadco Signs, told the board that he had submitted one. He was able to produce one that was copied during the meeting.
In other business:
• The BZA Board voted 4-0 to allow the Marshall County Historical Society to increase the projection distance of a wall sign from 12 feet to 22.5 feet into the right-of–way. Speaking for the application was Brent Martin who serves as the architect for the project. Also appearing before the board was Marshall County Museum Director Linda Rippy.
Martin explained that the museum is now a collection of three downtown buildings. He said there are multiple exits. Rippy said she has had complaints from people who did not know to use the main entrance (corner of Garro Street and Michigan Street.).
Martin said they designed the laser-cut metal sign because they are sympathetic to the classical design of the building.
BZA President Don Ecker questioned the safety of the signage during strong winds that would be attached at a 45 degree angle to the building. Martin said the sign would be anchored at three points and did not feel that there would be a problem.
Voting in favor were Ecker, Gidley, Jim Sherwood and Alan Selge.
•Sheila Gardner was given a variance of use to allow a gunsmithing operation at 10660 Nutmeg Road. the home property is in an R-2 suburban Residential zoning district. Garner said there would be no sign or sales at the location. She and her husband would be repairing, building and reconditioning guns.
When asked about chemicals used in the process, Gardner said they put what they use in the trash. although not a stipulation in allowing the variance, the board advised Gardner to seek proper disposal of any chemicals.