Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission members said Monday if the town’s car
dealers don’t like the zoning ordinance’s sign restrictions, they should
come to a meeting and say so.
Until that time, “The code is what the code is and should be enforced,” said
commission and Town Council member Toni Biancardi, but who like others
welcomed input from the car dealers to find a common ground.
Last month building commissioner Bill Arney said there was confusion over
how to interpret the ordinance language limiting the use of temporary signs
such as pennants, banners and inflatables to no more than 30 days per
calendar year and no more than 32 square feet per individual sign.
Commission attorney Chuck Parkinson said Monday that the 30 days are
cumulative, not 30 days for each permit issued for a temporary sign. “If
this is the 31st day you’ve had a sign up (this year), you’re in violation
of the ordinance.”
Arney said the permit applications will be adjusted to reflect when the
temporary signs are being put up and taken down to keep track of the total
days per year.
He also said, in addition to the 30 total days being too few, some car
dealers feel the 32 square-foot maximum for temporary signs is too small
because typically most banners are 4 feet by 12 feet or even 16 feet.
Commission member Terry Swanson said dealers might be required to use
corporate banners of a certain size.
Member Jan Hines said the commission shouldn’t be in a hurry to change the
sign rules when the business owners haven’t made a personal effort to
present what they don’t like about them. Parkinson said when the zoning
ordinance was amended last year, no one spoke out regarding temporary signs.
Commission member Bernie Poparad urged taking a tough stance with any car
dealer who doesn’t get sign permits, ignores Arney’s citations for
violations and places temporary signs and banners up at will because it’s
not fair to the competing dealers who comply with town code.
And the Town Council certainly shouldn’t buy a police car from a local
business that is in repeated violation of the sign ordinance, Poparad added.
Commission president Jeff Freeze suggested the council weigh how far it
wants to extend friendliness to local businesses. Jim McGee, a commission
member and the council president, said he wants to know if the ordinance
should be more liveable for the car dealers to maintain a working
relationship with the town.
For his part, “There will be a phone call made tomorrow,” said McGee.
“Communication is all we need; talk to people.”
In other business, the commission voted 7-0 twice to extend the
infrastructure completion dates and financial guarantees posted for
developers whose subdivisions have slowed due to the soft housing market.
Tom Lightfoot representing RB Developers of 200-home Corlin’s Landing on
South Babcock Road had his dates extended to July, 2011. “Sales have been a
little slow but there are some sales out there,” he told the commission.
Developer Dick Davis of Parkwood Estates on Haglund Road had his completion
and bond dates extended to May and November of 2011, but Davis questioned
why he has to reimburse the town for a new punch list drawn up by town
engineer Global Land Surveying when he also paid for one prepared by the
town’s previous engineer Haas & Associates.
Global estimated a cost of $120,726 to complete the outstanding
infrastructure work and repairs needed at Parkwood Estates. Davis said his
bond was reduced by a previous Plan Commission from $440,000 to $47,000.
Poparad asked how that could be with two-thirds or 24 of 38 lots yet to be
Davis said he’s caught between the town and individual contractors who get
occupancy permits, leave, then a sidewalk sinks and it’s the developer left
holding the bag. Freeze asked Hesham Khalil of Global to review the records
involved and to report back next month.
Said Davis, “I’m not going anywhere. We’ll do the work, but it’s troublesome
to pay for engineers time and time again."