The Ocean View Board of Adjustment voted unanimously this week to approve a variance request from Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church seeking to “replace an existing sign to complement the structure by incorporating a number of permissible signs into a single-sided sign of approximately 70 square feet.”
The church currently has two permitted signs – an identification sign and an announcement sign.
According to the town code, an identification sign for public facilities and places of assembly is limited to 24 square feet per side and is not to exceed a total signage area of 48 square feet.
Holly Wingate, a trustee of the church, said the church was hoping to eliminate of the two signs and replace the sign currently located by the intersection of Central Avenue and Route 26 with a larger sign.
“We propose to take down two signs, with the option of putting up one,” said Wingate. “Our intention is to aesthetically improve the sign we currently have at the church. As you know, we have a beautiful new church there and we still have the original sign that was put up there many years ago.”
Wingate said the church has a number of community outreach programs, including free lunches on Thursdays, and hopes to spread the word of the organization’s civic services.
Lynn Rogers, owner of Rogers Sign Co., who has been working with the church, said the proposed sign would be placed in the same position as the current sign, with the front facing the intersection.
Rogers said electronic LED sign the church desires has the capability to dim itself at night and brighten during the afternoon.
“We can also just have it at 10 percent brightness,” he added.
Public Works Director Charlie McMullen noted that both existing signs total approximately 68 square feet, and the new sign, though larger than the allowed 48 square feet, would be about 6 square feet less in total signage.
“They’re incorporating two signs into one,” he said.
Wingate added that the church had looked into converting the current sign into an electric LED sign, but the size would not be legible to those driving by.
Additionally, Wingate agreed that the church would cooperate with the town to display certain town-requested notices, such as evacuation notices or those for other emergency purposes.
Board Member Eugene Brendel asked who would be in charge of the messages displayed on the sign. Wingate said that she would be involved, along with the church’s secretary. Rogers added that his offices in Milton would also be able to remotely connect to the sign and change any display, from off-site, if need be.
Brendel also asked whether or not the widening of Route 26 would affect the proposed sign’s placement. Rogers responded that he and the church had been working with the Delaware Department of Transportation to make sure it will be placed well within the setbacks and thus not be affected by the future roadway project.
Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader asked Rogers if the sign could have a detrimental effect on the town and surrounding properties. Rogers responded that he did not believe it would.
No resident comments were made in favor of or opposition to the church’s application.
The board approved the variance request with a vote of 4-0.