Council grants sign exemption
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Oct 23, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

Council grants sign exemption

Stratford Gazette

Chet Greason

Council has granted the developers of an Erie Street South lot an exemption to the city’s sign bylaw, allowing them to erect two large road signs on the same piece of land.The current bylaw states that only one sign can be built per lot.

Two buildings under construction will be a Midas automotive repair shop and a Harvey’s fast food restaurant. Harvey’s has received the go ahead to build a sign, but Midas, due to the bylaw, has not. A site plan drawn up by the developers also features a third building, to be built in the future, with a third road sign.

A staff report regarding the issue cited concerns allowing the exemption “could set a precedent which may alter the essential character of the area.

“Erie Street is a gateway into the city and staff is concerned allowing multiple signs on properties entering the city would not be visually appealing to residents and visitors,” the report read.

Developer Anne McDougall presented a delegation on behalf of Midas and its local franchisee, Kevin Gibson. She addressed the concerns regarding the essential character of the area by pointing out there are already seven retail pylon signs in a very short stretch of Erie Street, two of which are located on the same property.

Manager of development services for the city, Jeff Leunissen, clarified the property with two signs, belonging to McDonald’s and Tim Hortons, was developed prior to the current signage bylaw, which was passed in 2004.

McDougall further stated a sign would be critical to Gibson’s business.

“There’s already been $1 million invested in this development,” she said.

Coun. Keith Culliton said if someone’s invested $1 million into a local business “We shouldn’t argue for a minute.”

Coun. George Brown also supported the exemption. He noted the city runs on taxes, and the lost revenue of the empty factories lining Erie South was significant.

Brown put forth a motion to allow the exemption for Midas, which passed 6-4.

During a discussion prior to voting, Coun. Paul Nickel asked McDougall why she never considered severing the property, allowing each business to erect their own sign.

McDougall said the last time she severed a property for a prior development it not only cost a great deal of money but took a long time.

“But if that’s what we’re forced to do, that’s what we’ll do,” she said.

Under questioning from Coun. Bonnie Henderson regarding the third sign on the property design, McDougall clarified the excess signs were not an oversight.

“Harvey’s would not be in Stratford without a sign,” she said.

When it was pointed out other Harvey’s locations have no road sign or, in some cases, share a sign with other businesses, McDougall answered, “This franchisee would not even entertain that.”

Leunissen urged council to review the current signage bylaw given the decision.

“We told them up front. One sign per property,” he said.

Coun. Kerry McManus took issue with the fact the property was designed with multiple signs despite the developers’ awareness of the bylaw.

“The fact it was known is troublesome,” she said, adding the developers’ tactics appeared to be “forcing an issue.”

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