Chesterton Tribune


Burns Harbor planners to Council: Tighten signage and gas station zoning laws

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It’s now up to the Burns Harbor Town Council to decide whether new off-premises signs, including billboards, will be banned from the town’s central core.

Meeting Monday, the town’s Advisory Plan Commission forwarded a favorable recommendation on proposed zoning ordinance changes regarding signs and fuel/convenience stores.

The latter would be prohibited in the Residential/Commercial-2 zoning district although a use variance could be sought. Fuel/convenience stores will be allowed in the Downtown and Business Park districts. The ban would affect new stores, not existing ones.

The sign changes would ban off-premises signs on any parcel located on or adjacent to U.S. 20 from the westernmost boundary of Burns Harbor east to Lions Drive, or on any parcel located on or adjacent to Indiana 149 from the town’s southernmost boundary north to U.S. 12.

The town’s Board of Zoning Appeals currently is considering separate petitions for two new billboards south of Interstate 94 west of I-94’s Exit 22.

The proposed ordinance revisions also update zoning regarding dynamic signs, including those using LED technology, that can be changed from a remote location; the sign cannot create a public nuisance or unsafe driving conditions, or its face not contain images that flash, scroll, turn, twinkle or have any type of movement.

The glare and light intensity emitted from dynamic signs also is regulated.

During a hearing Monday at which no one from the public commented, commission member Marcus Rogala inquired about additional sign changes that would ban business signs affixed, painted, attached or displayed on a motor vehicle or semi-trailer intended primarily as advertising. He questioned whether such language would affect people who bring home identifiable company vehicles.

Commission attorney Charles Parkinson said no because those vehicles move and their sole purpose isn’t to advertise a business on that property. He noted enforcing the rule, if adopted, would be up to building commissioner Bill Arney, and whether the vehicle is currently plated/registered.

Arney commented, “It’s going to be a case-by-case basis.”

Commission member and former building commissioner Gene Weibl said there’s a difference between advertising a four-day sale with a sign on a box truck and a semi-trailer painted with advertising messages parked for months at the same location. Parkinson said a vehicle can’t be moved around at the same location if the primary intent is its use as a sign.

The favorable vote on the proposed ordinance changes was 5-0 with Jim McGee and Jan Hines absent.

In other business, the commission unanimously accepted an extension of the letter of credit until September, 2013 for Trail Creek subdivision on South Babcock Road.




Posted 9/11/2012