The Greencastle Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved the development standards request for lighted signage on the north and east sides of the shop, located at the southwest corner of Washington and Locust streets.
Property owners Shah Shoaib and Amy Heller are developing the self-serve yogurt shop on property kitty-corner from City Hall on a site that formerly housed the Phillips 66 and Clody's Marathon gasoline stations and garages over the years.
The variance was necessary because illuminated signage is not permissible in the central business district.
The petitioners agreed to illuminate the cabinet-style signage only during business hours (expected to be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily).
The signs on the building will each be 13 feet long and three feet high.
During discussion Tuesday night at City Hall, it was noted that the nearby property likely most affected by the lighted signs would be the residence of Jim McMillan at 307 E. Washington St. (northwest corner of Locust and Washington).
Both the petitioners and city officials were uncertain whether McMillan had actually received certified mail notification of Tuesday night's BZA meeting (it is possible, city officials said, that the property in question is owned by a bank or loan company which received the notification).
Thus, approval of the variance was made contingent upon verification that McMillan had been properly notified of the requested variance.
Shah said he has spoken to McMillan about the project since construction began, and the longtime Greencastle resident had no objection to it, he said.
An independent venture, Green Apple Frogurt will employ four full-time workers and three part-timers, Shah said.
He expects the construction project to be finished next month, but told the BZA he might not open until sometime in February when it is warmer and DePauw University students have returned to campus from Winter Term.
"A lot of people are very excited about your yogurt shop opening," City Attorney Laurie Hardwick offered.
"I'm excited, too," Shah said.
He explained that the idea came to him after reviewing the monthly credit card bills of his daughter, an Indiana University student in Bloomington.
"I kept seeing 'Red Mango,' 'Red Mango,' 'Red Mango,' 'Red Mango' ... I said, 'What is that?'"
His daughter told him he needed to go see for himself, and Shah visited the relaxed atmosphere of the Red Mango yogurt shop in Bloomington.
Shah said he "liked the concept," which involved customers filling their cups with yogurt and choosing from some 40-50 toppings, ranging from candy to fresh fruit.
Shah, who for eight years has owned and operated the Clark station just across the street from the yogurt shop site (along with the Marathon station in Cloverdale), said he is tackling the project "because I love Greencastle."
Friends have questioned the project, he said, noting that yogurt shops typically are "only successful in upscale neighborhoods."
But Shah decided he wanted to do another project in Greencastle, and when he realized there was no room to expand the Clark station, he opted for the abandoned lot on the opposite side of Locust Street.
Zoning Board members Paul Sanders, John Phillips and Jeff Sigworth voted in favor of granting the variance. BZA members Kathy Ferrand and Donnie Watson were absent.
In other action, the board also agreed to conduct its monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of each month, beginning at 6 p.m. instead of 7, for the remainder of 2011 and all of 2012.
City Attorney Hardwick and City Planner Shannon Norman were also on hand for the 30-minute meeting at City Hall.