COUNTY OF ALBEMARLE

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

 

AGENDA TITLE:

Seminole Place Sign Refacing Appeal

 

 

SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST:

Appeal of ARB decision

 

 

STAFF CONTACT(S):

Tucker, Foley, Davis, Cilimberg, Maliszewski

 

 

LEGAL REVIEW:   Yes

 

AGENDA DATE:

June 9, 2004

 

ACTION:     X                         INFORMATION:    

 

CONSENT AGENDA:

  ACTION:                              INFORMATION:   

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:       Yes

 

 

REVIEWED BY:

 

 

 

BACKGROUND:

ARB Review of Proposal: On May 3, 2004 the Architectural Review Board reviewed an application to reface the existing freestanding sign at the Comdial property on the west side of Route 29 North, a short distance south of Greenbrier Drive. (See Attachment A.) The proposal consisted of an opaque blue face with white letters and white border for the upper panel, and a lower panel consisting of black letters on a white background during the daytime, changing to illuminated white letters on an opaque background at night. In keeping with the ARB’s practice of limiting internal illumination of cabinet signs, the ARB voted 4:0 (Train absent) to approve the proposal with the following conditions:

  1. The letters of the upper cabinet may be illuminated. 
  2. The white border on the upper sign can be illuminated at night provided that the border is no larger than 1/8 inch in width.
  3. Revise the lower sign to increase the compatibility of its daytime appearance with that of the upper sign.
  4. The lower panel shall not be internally illuminated, but it may be externally illuminated.

The applicant is appealing condition #4, stating that the proposal complies with the ARB Guidelines and that restrictions based on content are unconstitutional. (See Attachment B for the ARB minutes, which include the ARB staff report, and Attachment C for the ARB Action Letter.)

 

ARB Guidelines: The original ARB design guidelines were adopted in 1990-91 and included some specific references to signs.  Updated sign guidelines adopted by the ARB in 1998 called for signs with no lighting or with external illumination.  The ARB has consistently worked to limit excessive illumination of signs in an attempt to implement the EC goal of ensuring that new development reflects the traditional architecture of the area and to promote orderly and attractive development within the corridors

 

 

STRATEGIC PLAN:

Goal 2.2: Protect and preserve the County’s natural resources.

 

 

DISCUSSION:

The purpose of ARB review is to ensure that new development in the Entrance Corridors is compatible with the historic architecture of the County and to promote orderly and attractive development. There is no historical precedent for internally illuminated signs; however, the ARB recognizes the need to identify businesses to help the traveling public find their destination and exit the highway safely. The preferred solution is to externally illuminate the sign; in other words, to shine a light on the sign. This is preferred because it allows consistency between the daytime and nighttime images of the sign. Also, external lighting appears to the viewer as reflected light and allows the focus of the sign to be the original overall shape, color and complete design of the sign. Internal illumination produces a fragmented sign image at night (compared to external lighting) and emphasizes the illumination itself, rather than an element in a coordinated site design. Limits on illumination are also intended to reduce glare, to reduce visual clutter and distraction, to provide for coordinated appearances along the EC, to increase visual continuity, and to limit negative impacts along the County’s Entrance Corridors.

 

The applicant’s proposal meets the ARB guideline for making the backgrounds of internally illuminated signs opaque.  It does not meet the guideline for no lighting or external illumination.  To achieve a balance of business identification with order and continuity throughout the EC, the ARB determined that the quantity of internal illumination proposed for the Seminole Place sign was inappropriate and that it should be limited to the illumination of the letters and border on the upper panel only. The ARB left open the option of external illumination for the bottom panel, in the event that the applicant preferred to have that portion of the sign visible at night.

 

 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

The ARB recommends that the application, as presented, be denied. The ARB recommends approval of the application with the following conditions:

1.       The letters of the upper cabinet may be illuminated. 

2.       The white border on the upper sign can be illuminated at night provided that the border is no larger than 1/8 inch in width.

3.       Revise the lower sign to increase the compatibility of its daytime appearance with that of the upper sign.

4.       The lower panel shall not be internally illuminated, but it may be externally illuminated.

 

 

 

ATTACHMENTS:

A. Applicant’s illustration showing proposed sign refacing

B. Draft ARB minutes, including staff report

C. ARB Action Letter

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