Board of Zoning Appeals approved four variances for signage at the
soon-to-open Wise Guys Discount Liquor store at 1601 South Calumet Road at
its meeting last week.
Anderson represented Wilbert Hamstra Inc., the owners of the building, and
Merrill Liquors, the tenant operating as Wise Guys.
Anderson said the
petitioners required four variances for the signage they want to put up.
“We’re worried this building is going to be buried and not be seen by the
community,” Anderson said.
The new store will
share a building with Kathy’s Antiques. Anderson cited the placement of the
building, set back off of South Calumet on a frontage road, as a factor that
limits the store’s visibility. “We think one of the main reasons the
building has remained vacant is the lack of visibility to the actual
building itself,” Anderson continued, saying the company wants a noticeable
freestanding sign visible from Ind. 49 that is similar to others nearby.
Anderson said the
proposed location for the freestanding sign would join two large billboards
to the north and the sign for Dean’s Auto. Those factors could make a Wise
Guys sign hard to see if it is equal to or less than the maximum height the
Town allows of 18 feet. Two variances relate to the freestanding signÑone is
to allow the sign to exceed the maximum height and be 22 feet tall, and the
other is to allow 223 square feet is display per side when Town code allows
60 square feet per side.
research from the U.S. Sign Council stating that a freestanding sign should
have 312 square feet of display to be most visible to drivers exceeding 50
miles per hour on a complex four-lane road to show that 60 square feet would
be inadequate for a sign facing Ind. 49. He also noted that Ind. 49 is
higher than the ground where the sign will be placed by six feet. “It is
really a 16-foot sign to cars passing by,” he said.
A third variance
was to allow 110 square feet of signage, in the form of channel letters, on
the east side of the building where Town code allows 80, and a fourth
variance was to allow temporary signage of up to 48 square feet on each side
of the building, to be removed when the permanent signage goes up. Anderson
said the temporary signs were crucial, as the store might open the first
week of October.
No one spoke for or
against the requests at a public hearing.
Kim Goldak commented that the addition of Wise Guys could ‘liven up’ the
area of South Calumet. She said the scrutiny related to signage is not meant
to be a barrier to business: “Your building looks great, we want you to
succeed. We want you to do a great job out there.”
Member Jim Kowalski
concurred. “We don’t want to be the ones who say no to something that pushes
out business instead of brings it in,” he said. “But I see more and more
businesses that want to put signage on buildings. Somewhere along the line
it has to be controlled because things could get out of hand. You always
worry about the other individual who’s gonna put up something that’s not in
the best interest of the community.”
approved of the look of the building, saying he thinks the signage is “in
good taste.” Goldak brought up, however, the question of what happens to the
variances granted if Wise Guys is so successful that it moves to its own
location, like the CVS that was formerly at 1601 S. Calumet and constructed
its own building at the intersection of 1100N and Ind. 49.
that retail is tough right now, but “The idea is to stay there as long as we
can.” Wise Guys has agreed to a five-year lease in the space.
Member Fred Owens
contributed, saying that this case shows how the BZA must look at each case
individually. “We’re not advocating that every building on 49 has this, but
I agree that when it was CVS, I never knew it was CVS. This is a unique
property, and this is a unique situation.”
suggested that whoever leased the space next could just use the freestanding
Richard Riley agreed. “We make a choice on the geography, so it shouldn’t
matter if a new tenant moves in,” he said.
comment on the sign ordinance, implying that it has been a sticking point
for businesses looking to come to Chesterton. He also said new subdivisions
have to be offset at some point with commercial development. “Every year I
see my property taxes going up, and sooner or later, if we don’t establish
ourselves more as a community to attract even small business, we’re gonna
push people out of this town.”
Riley agreed that a
balance of commercial and residential property is important and that the
sign ordinance could go for a review. Board Attorney Julie Paulson said the
Plan Commission would have to decide if anything is changed, and Riley
suggested the Commission look at the sign ordinance as part of its review of
the comprehensive plan, slated for the November meeting.