Sign flies on third try

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – One was apparently the right number for Ray Ten Pas.

Ten Pas won approval from the town of Plymouth Board of Adjustments Tuesday for a 14-foot by 48-foot single pole billboard on the east side of State 57 between County C and State 23.

He needed the variance because the proposed sign is closer to an existing billboard than the required 1,000 feet in the town’s ordinance.

The third time was the charm for Ten Pas, who had a variance request to locate two billboards on the parcel denied by the Board of Adjustments last October and December.

“All I’m going to say is I cut it down to one billboard,” Ten Pas told the board members.

He pointed out that directly across the road from where his doublesided billboard would go the state Department of Transportation has a directional sign pointing to local businesses on State 23 such as Culver’s, McDonald’s and AmericInn motel.

Questioned why his proposed site for the sign is still less than 1,000 feet from the nearest billboard, Ten Pas said he chose the most northerly point on the parcel in order to keep the sign out of the floodplain area. “Wherever I put it on my property I think I still need a variance,” he added.

Plymouth Mayor Donald Pohlman reiterated the city’s opposition to the proposal.

“Setbacks are there for a reason,” Pohlman told the board. “Our position hasn’t changed whether it’s one sign or two signs.”

He also restated that, if the property is ever annexed to the city, the billboard would have to be torn down at the owner’s expense since it violates the city’s sign ordinance. Only signs erected before 1994, when that ordinance was adopted, are exempt, Pohlman said.

Ten Pas’ first request for two signs was denied unanimously by the Board of Adjustments, while the second vote on two signs was 3-2 to deny the variance. The variance for one sign was approved by a vote of 4-1.

The Town Board approved a change to the zoning ordinance to allow auxiliary buildings on properties zoned R-3 (single-family residence sewered).

The change had been recommended by the Zoning Commission earlier in the evening.

City Attorney Jim Hughes explained that the ban on auxiliary buildings, including detached garages, in the R-3 zone, was an “omission” in the code.

“We’ve been trying to think why that omission was there,” he related. “There might have been a good reason for that omission that we don’t know,” but town officials did not know of any.

The issue arose when a property owner in the Crystal Lake Sanitary District tried to sell his home recently. A prospective buyer backed out when he sought to build a detached garage on the lot and found the town ordinance did not allow one.

The town has relatively few residential lots that have sewer service, and many of those are too small for an auxiliary building that would meet setback requirements, Hughes noted, which may be why the ban was put in place originally.

The board changed the time for the April meeting to Tuesday, April 8, at 7 p.m. The regular meeting night, April 1, is election night, while the town’s annual meeting is Tuesday, April 15.

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