The Millville Board of Adjustments met recently to discuss and vote on variances requested by Millville Town Center Associates LLC at their October meeting, to approve four additional signs and an additional 191.4 square feet for signage for the Giant supermarket. The board had decided to defer their decision until the November meeting to ensure they had adequate time to consider the requests.
Millville’s town code allows for each business to have one sign, however Millville Town Center Associates requested that the store be granted four signs to display on the facade.
Gary Brent, who represented both Giant Food and Gable Signs before the board, said that, along with the store’s “Giant” sign, the group was requesting to have signs displaying “The Quality Food People,” “Starbucks,” “Pharmacy” and “Low Prices.”
Board Member Andy Lyons said that he would be in favor of granting the store additional signs.
“I’m just trying to be reasonable, and I don’t think their request is that unreasonable,” he said. “How they break it up into this number of signs… within those parameters, I’m inclined to say that I’m OK with that. We let the building inspector and Giant work out the details. I don’t need to know what the signs say, where it goes.”
BoA Chairman Mark Reeve said that, due to the business’ extremely large frontage of more than 320 linear feet, the business is in an exceptional situation, compared to the majority of the town’s businesses, which are much smaller.
“That’s a physical condition that leads to the unnecessary hardship of the applicant,” he explained.
Lyons suggested that the board grant the store three additional signs, for a total of four signs.
“I think where we tie it into the square feet of the facade of that building is to imagine another building within Millville of that size. I don’t think it would be unreasonable for them to request the same thing,” he said.
Addressing potential precedent being set by the approval, “I don’t think that we’re going to fret being inundated by people. I don’t foresee that happening,” said Lyons. “I think that’s reasonable, and I think the board is being reasonable. Give a little, take a little.”
The variance was granted with a vote of 2-1, with Board Member Tim Droney in opposition.
“Because the ordinance says one, three is three times more than one. The configuration that I see here is not,” said Droney. “Based on other signs in a similar complex in this town, they’re over, and they have one sign. So to give these people four signs would be maybe not fair to those people.”
Last month, the board was also presented with an application for a variance requesting that the Giant be granted 291.4 square feet in signage. The current code, which was adopted this year and put a number of existing businesses into non-conformity, permits 100 square feet or 5 percent of the building’s frontage for a commercial use within a shopping center. They requested that the town grant them a variance to that limit of 191.4 square feet.
“I am inclined to keep the square footage as close to their original footage as possible,” said Lyons. “I don’t know that we can allow for much more than that. But I don’t want to restrict them to the current code either. I think that would be too restrictive.”
Lyons cited an exceptional practical difficulty for the store, saying that he was in favor of the store keeping its allotment of 219.75 square feet for signage.
“The size of the front of the building and its distance from the road makes me think it’s within reason,” he noted.
“It would present a practical difficulty reducing it from what it was previously,” said Reeve.
“I think that it’s lenient on our side and more than they were originally authorized,” added Droney.
The board voted 3-0 to approved a variance of 119.75 square feet to the Millville Town Center Associates for signage.