BZA special meeting to discuss Mooney's III sign violation

Staff Writer

Tonight a special Plymouth Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) meeting will take place at 5:30 in the Council Chambers located at 124 N. Michigan St. Plymouth.
The only item on the agenda is Mooney's III, 309 E. Jefferson St., sign violation.
The sign is in violation of city ordinances for the following reasons: The sign in question is in the right-of-way and it is higher than eight feet. In addition there are already two signs on the property and according to city ordinances that is the maximum amount.
Tonight the fate of the sign will be determined.
The details will be printed in tomorrow's Pilot News.

Background

The conversations about signage began last fall, however it was in February the controversy was introduced at a public meeting.
In February at a BZA public meeting the sign for Moony's III was discussed in detail. The BZA tabled the matter until the April meeting to give time for the business to come up with a new sign proposal.
During the February meeting, board member, Greg Compton, suggested the possibility of a new sign design including all the businesses in the building.
"I'm thinking the best solution would be that everybody in the building get together and make plans for one nice sign and come and get a variance for that one nice sign," said Compton.
To which Mooney's III owner Jon Webster replied: "I'm open for anything that you guys suggest. I just want to advertise my business and keep it up so that people know where I am," stated Webster.
Michelle Roberts, property manager for the building was present at both meetings. Webster did not attend the April meeting.
During the April meeting Roberts presented a new sign that included all three businesses. The board, after discussion, approved the sign along with a variance for the sign due to it not meeting the codes for the zoning of the location. It was also noted during the April meeting that the current sign would need to be removed.
Following the April meeting the sign was not removed and City Attorney Sean Surrisi presented Webster with a Notice of Fines for Violation which stated that if the sign was not removed by April 18 that a $150.00 per day fine would be implemented.
The sign was not removed.
In a return letter to Surrisi, Webster stated, "If forced, we will make this dispute public by contacting every and all media outlets available as well as our 1100+ Facebook friends and every customer that walks into our door. We will provide each of them with the facts of this instance along with the names and contact numbers for each related City Official and BZA Board Member so they can seek answers or clarification as to why it has reached this point when all we have tried to do is comply with the city from the beginning."
At this time the sign remains.

From the April meeting

Property manager, Michelle Roberts, who submitted the proposal discussed placement of the new sign with the Board. During this discussion, it was pointed out that the new signage does not meet the codes for this particular zoning area.
"That particular zoning requires a monument sign. The proposed is a pole sign," stated Building Inspector, Keith Hammonds. There is also a visual triangle of 20 feet that needs to be met because the location is on a corner.
After further discussion, the board decided to approve the request because the parties had, in fact, done as requested and returned with renderings of the proposed new sign. The variance was approved and the parties will have to remove the ice cream parlor sign this week and have the new sign erected within 60 days in the location discussed. There was no opposition to this presented at the meeting.

From the February meeting:

Jon Webster, owner of Mooney's III, located at 309 East Jefferson Street in Plymouth, was found to be in violation of several codes due to the signage placed near the front of the location late last year.
Misunderstandings regarding the application for permits were addressed. Webster had installed the lighted sign at the property without first applying for a permit.
Keith Hammonds, building commissioner, had spoken with Webster in July regarding other permits for the property and they had discussed the possibility of additional signage for the business.
"It's my first business in any town, so it's all new for me as far as permits and things," Webster explained.
Webster installed the sign, which he had acquired from Greg Freshour, in October. He explained that the yellow ice cream parlor sign had hung near the corner of State Road 17 and Michigan Street at Freshour's business for several years, so he thought it would be a good addition for Mooney's Ice Cream.
"I thought it would be perfect for us, so I put it up and then found out I was not in compliance," said Webster.
Hammonds said once he saw that the sign had been installed he informed Webster that he was in violation and then suggested that Webster approach the BZA to request a variance instead of requiring him to immediately remove the sign.
During the meeting it was also pointed out that the sign is also in violation of height standards, which allows for signs to be a maximum of 8 feet, and it is not located at least 10 feet off of the right-a-way per ordinance. The sign is also the fourth sign for the building and codes allow for only two signs per business.

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