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Lisbon’s new zoning rules put to their first test

September 1, 2012
Morning Journal News

LISBON - The Village Board of Zoning Appeals handled its first application since the zoning code was overhauled and the final authority for deciding disputes was transferred to Village Council.

The zoning board voted 3-0 at this week's meeting to approve a variance application from Consumers National Bank to erect a monument-style sign with an electronic-message sign, along with an illuminated wall sign.

Located next to the Post Office on state Route 45 in a business/industrial-zoned district, the bank needed a variance because of the zoning code regulation prohibiting illuminated signs that flash or cause "the illumination of movement."

While the board agreed an electronic-message sign violates the code, they were not necessarily opposed to the bank's application for a variance.

"I have no problem with it, but since council wants the final say, I say let them," said board member Mike Ours.

He was referring to council's controversial overhaul of the zoning code last year that gave council final say over deciding variances if the initial request is rejected by the board. Before the change, the decision would have to be appealed directly to court. Board members opposed the change, saying it made their existence unnecessary.

Board member Cheryl Mills agreed with Ours, saying the sign would clearly violate zoning code. "We're not trying to hurt any business. We like you being out there," she told bank officials Steve Badman and Dawn Chepke.

Board member Dick Henthorne said variances are only supposed to be granted in hardship cases, and this situation clearly does not meet the criteria. He said by granting the variance they would be setting a precedent for any business wanting to install electronic-messaging signs, which they are trying to limit with the regulation.

Badman doubts that would occur, given that these signs are expensive. "We're looking at it as a customer service," he said, noting the sign will also include notifications about upcoming community events, in addition to bank advertisements and the time and temperature.

Badman said zoning regulations in Alliance, where they have a branch office, required the messages on their electronic-message sign last at least 30 seconds, and he said they could program the Lisbon sign to do likewise if that would meet the code.

After further discussion, the board indicated it would approve the variance if the bank agreed messages had to last for at least 20 seconds and that each message would be followed by the time and temperature. Badman agreed, and the board approved the variance.



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