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Planners Veto Sign Light Limit

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The City Planning Commission approved the planning staff's recommendation against a sign ordinance amendment which would prohibit illuminated projectíng signs at yesterday afternoon's regular meeting. The amendment to the city code defines a projected sign as one which is supported by a wall of a building and does not project more than three feet from the minimum required setback line and the street right-of-way. Such a sign, the amendment states, shall be neither internally nor externally illuminated. The staff commented in a report to the commission, "The proposal ... is ... against the spirit of the sign ordinance . . . Restrictions will tend to encourage good design . . . This design aspect can be enhanced when internally illuminated signs are permitted. The spirit of good design qualities . . . would be lost with this amendment. . ." A status report by the staff on the Parking Lot Landscape and Buffering Study consumed the greater portion of the meeting. The report outlined three major areas: required landscaping adjacent to public rights of way-, perimeter landscaping abutting property, and landscaping off street parking for commercial, office, industrial research and multi -family use. The ordinance, still in the planning states, would control the amount of landscaping required in a given area. The staff' s status report suggested that commercial and industrial property should have a strip no less than five feet wide landscaped with one tree for every 50 lineal feet and a minimum two - foot hedge or a durable wall to buffer the commercial-industrial property from public rights-of-way. Perimeter landscaping near property lines would buffer commercial from industrial, requiring a strip of landscaped area 10 feet wide with a hedge or durable landscaping wall of no less than two feet and no more than six feet high. One tree for every 50 lineal feet and grass or some landscaping green groundcover would be required, the report said. The buffer between residential, commercial, industrial and research property would be 15 feet wide with one tree for every 40 lineal feet and a combination af durable and living landscaped wall, with an effective screen within two years. Parking areas designated íor commercial and office use would provide by law 15 square feet of planting area for every parking space in units of landscaped area for every parking space in units of landscaped area no smaller than 50 square feet. A tree would be planted for every two units of landscaped area, or for every 100 feet. Drive-in offices would landscape two suqare feet of land for every 100 square feet of paved area. Parking lots serving multifamily residential developments would have to landscape 10 square feet of land for every parking space. The landscaping would be arranged in 50-squarefeet units with one tree for every two units. Industrial parking lots would be required to landscape one-half as much land as commercial parking lots. Several problems were raised concerning the ordinance at this stage of planning. Questions the staff pointed out included whether complying with the spirit of the ordinance would be just as good as complying with the letter. The staff report also questioned which has greater importance, the parking ordinance or the planting ordinance. The staff indicated that the plan as it stands now has no provision to buffer like land uses such as commercial abutting commercial. The staff also wondered whether or not the ordinance should be graphically illustrated in both the code manual and the ordinance. Richard Lavely, a commissioner, commented on the landscaping ordinance plan, "It's going to take land . . . It goes against getting the maximum use of land." Several commissioners suggested that major questions will be raised about the cost to ovvners of commercial, industrial, research and multi-family property in complying with the ordinance. The staff agreed to draw up some sample cases and estimate the costs involved. Retiring from the commission yesterday were Keith Weiland, Claude Johnson and Richard Lavely.