Green Apple Frogurt denied monument sign by BZA

Thursday, February 9, 2012
Renovation work continues at 306 E. Washington St., Greencastle, as Green Apple Frogurt moves toward an anticipated opening sometime during the period Feb. 21-24.

If old Will Shakespeare had written the saga of Green Apple Frogurt and its midwinter night's sign request, it might have sounded a lot like "Julius Caesar" in reverse.

In Shakespeare's famed drama, of course, they came to bury Caesar, not praise him. Beware those Ides of March and all that ...

In reality Tuesday night, the Green Apple Frogurt came away with heaps of praise but saw its request for a monument-style sign buried by a 3-0 Greencastle Board of Zoning Appeals vote.

The outcome essentially had been decided before BZA members lent their ears to Amy Heller's presentation on behalf of Green Apple Frogurt, the new yogurt shop opening later this month at 306 E. Washington St.

It was already obvious that the sign -- 4.5 feet high and 6 feet wide and flush to the ground like a cemetery monument -- would be considered an obstruction to traffic and visibility at one of the most congested intersections in Greencastle.

City Planner Shannon Norman, who recommended denying the use variance request for the sign, said city ordinance prohibits such signage from creating an impediment to traffic and visibility in what is known as a sight triangle from the center of the intersecting streets in question.

"You can't have cars stacked at a stopsign and having an obstructed view," she said, "and it's not just the car at the corner (the ordinance is concerned with)."

Of course, it didn't help the request that one of the streets involved is heavily traveled Washington Street (aka U.S. 231) as it passes City Hall, the Clark station and the Locust Street access to the DePauw University campus.

You don't have to work at City Hall long, Norman reasoned, to see what an active intersection Washington and Locust can be. The city planner said she and City Attorney Laurie Hardwick have witnessed plenty of accidents at the intersection right outside their office over the past few years.

Allowing another potential distraction at the location was not going to happen.

Heller had sought the sign on behalf of owner Shoaib Shah, explaining that they thought the extra signage was necessary at the northeast corner of their property because of how far the building (the old Phillips 66 station) sits off the road.

Board member Donnie Watson noted that correct interpretation of the ordinance would mean a monument sign could be erected no closer than 35 feet from the corner.

"That sets you way in," he told Heller.

"That wasn't what you had in mind, was it?" neighbor Jim McMillan, 307 E. Washington St., said to Heller sympathetically.

McMillan, whose newly renovated home is due north across Washington Street from the colorful Green Apple Frogurt business, was there to support Heller and Shoaib and complimented their efforts in turning a vacant eyesore property into a nice-looking commercial operation.

BZA members all agreed, offering nothing but praise for the Green Apple project and what the owners have done with the building thus far.

In fact, the BZA has previously approved lighted wall signs on the building as a special exception in the Central Business (CB) district.

"We do appreciate the signs you have allowed us and the awnings (with the Green Apple logo)," Heller told Norman and the BZA. "Can you suggest any alternative to having the monument sign?"

BZA Chairman Jeff Sigworth shook his head no.

"That really is not our forte," he offered. "From my perspective, -- and I utilize that intersection four, six, eight times a day -- I think your signs look great."

Perchance to dream ...

BZA member John Phillips made the motion to deny the use variance request, which was made unanimous by Watson and Sigworth.

At the outset of the meeting, Chairman Sigworth and Vice Chairman Paul Sanders were re-elected to their respective roles during annual board reorganization. Norman will continue to serve as BZA secretary.

Board members Kathy Ferrand and Sanders were absent Tuesday evening.

The next scheduled session of the Greencastle BZA will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 6 at City Hall.

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  • Two things -

    1.) Could the sign as proposed be placed at the northwest corner of the lot? Or would a sign 6-8 feet off the ground in the northwest corner be approved? Would either of these suggestions pass the zoning restrictions?

    2.) In following these meetings for a number of years, I have noticed one member is frequently absent.

    -- Posted by Lookout on Thu, Feb 9, 2012, at 11:01 AM
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