Sign could bring zoning change

While everyone agrees that the new sign at the Crary Art Gallery is in violation of the city sign ordinance, a shift in strategy appears likely according to city officials.

During Warren City Council’s Monday evening meeting, City Planner David Hildebrand informed council that a zoning ordinance amendment will likely be the way to go to permit the sign.

“In talking to the (Crary) board, we are taking the stance of presenting their background and case to the Planning Commission, looking at that (zoning) district as a whole.”

While the sign ordinance covers all districts, Hildebrand said that most emphasis was placed on R-2 residential districts as well as commercial districts and the downtown historic district.

But the Crary sits in an R-3 residential district. “This district has a variety of uses and competing uses,” Hildebrand said.

City Manager Nancy Freenock said that the Crary “does have the opportunity to follow both paths simultaneously,” in reference to the variance and a zoning amendment.

She said that, in the opinion of the staff, “going the variance route would not be successful.” She explained that the variance criteria are specific and delineate that the variance must be the result of a hardship that is not financial or self-created.

Pursuing a zoning amendment “seemed to be a more likely route with a higher likelihood of success,” Freenock added. “I think it’s going to depend on what the Planning Commission would recommend. It’s really up to them. Usually the amount of signage is related to the size of the building. It will be a few months before this is resolved.”

In the meantime, the sign can stay. Freenock said that Crary has not been given notice of a violation and will not be fined. “It was not anything intentional, not to circumvent the law,” she added. “The intentions were good but an error was made.”