BOA: October 17th 2017
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
Oct 17, 2017
The Board of Appeals met in regular session on Tues, Oct 17, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mayfield Village Civic Center Conference Room. Chairman Prcela presided.
Present: Mr. Joseph Prcela (Chairman), Mr. Vetus Syracuse (Chairman Pro Tem), Mr. Stivo DiFranco, and Mr. John Michalko
Also Present: Mr. John Marrelli (Building Commissioner) and Ms. Deborah Garbo (Secretary)
Absent: Mrs. Alexandra Jeanblanc and Mr. Mark Guidetti (Asst. Law Director)
CONSIDERATION OF MEETING MINUTES: July 6, 2017
Mr. DiFranco, seconded by Mr. Syracuse made a motion to approve the minutes of July 6, 2017.
Ayes: Mr. Prcela, Mr. Syracuse, Mr. DiFranco, Mr. Michalko
Motion Carried. Minutes Approved As Written.
CONSIDERATION OF CASE NUMBER #2017-04:
Quality Electrodynamics (QED)
6655 Beta Dr.
Property Owner: Premier Development Partners
- A variance request from Section 1185.15(c) (4) to allow for two ground signs (one ground sign allowed).
- A request for a 20’ front setback variance from Section 1185.15 (c) (4) to allow for a proposed ground sign (30’ setback from the right-of-way allowed).
- A variance request from section 1185.15 (c) (4) to allow for a “V” shape ground sign (ground signs allowed to be placed perpendicular to the street).
Abutting Property Owners:
Beta Dr: 6671, 767, 761, 701, 600, 700, 731, 6685, 6650, 660, 6690, 6680, 6670, 780, 651, 730
Chairman Prcela called the meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals to order. We have one case tonight, Case #2017-04, applicant is QED. I see that the abutting property owners have been notified. Was there any response or attendance here?
Mr. Marrelli replied no, nothing.
Chairman Prcela said, I’m assuming that means there’s no opposition.
Chairman Prcela stated that anyone wishing to speak must be sworn in, administering the oath to the Board Members, Applicants and Appellants and asked anyone wishing to speak to state their name and address for the record.
Bert Toth, Facilities Manager QED and Sam Costiuc, President Signarama Mayfield introduced themselves.
Sam Costiuc states, we’re requesting variances on a ground sign. First variance primarily is due to there being two drives and a lot of confusion being caused as to where the entrance for QED is.
The monument sign that is existing has multiple tenants on it and it’s on the east side. We’re seeking to put another ground sign on the same parcel on the west side.
The first drive on the east side I believe is for all the tenants. QED would like to designate the west entrance primarily for them because that’s where their entrance is and that’s where the sign will be.
Also, being that that drive is so close to Mayfran’s entrance and their sign, there’s been confusion causing people pulling into the wrong driveway to the wrong entrance.
Bert Toth demonstrates traffic flow using site plan. We’re trying to give a little more prominence to QED, especially for visitors.
Chairman Prcela asked, who would be using the drive?
Bert Toth replied, visitors and customers on the small little drive. Employees on this drive to the east.
Mr. Syracuse asked, where are there parking spots for the drive?
Bert Toth replied, that unfortunately does not reflect reality. There’s 10 parking spots right next to the front door.
Mr. Syracuse asked, does that all fill up?
Bert Toth replied, it can. That’s part of the issue.
Mr. Syracuse asked, where is the overflow?
Bert Toth replied, to the right to the employee parking. QED is a medical facility, highly regulated by the FDA, security is a concern who goes to what door. We have visitors that come to the front door, the street side with the small parking lot. There we have our receptionist that marshals the door. If they go to the employee door, employees won’t let them in.
Mr. Syracuse asked, is there a sign on the employee door stating which door to go to?
Bert Toth replied, we have a paper sign that says all others go to the front.
Mr. Syracuse asked, do you have a website that has directions?
Bert Toth replied, I don’t know if it has directions or not, probably just a street address.
Mr. DiFranco asked, are there three businesses on that parcel?
Bert Toth replied, MARS and QED. Then we’ll have a second business in the middle, a Research Institute. QED’s in the front, MARS in the rear to the north then the Research Institute in the middle.
Mr. Syracuse asked, do you have signs in the parking lot designating this?
Bert Toth replied, yes.
Mr. Syracuse asked John, are those signs permitted?
Mr. Marrelli replied, yes. Our sign code allows directional signs so people aren’t driving around in circles. Besides the fact that you have semi’s coming through that other driveway that you really don’t want the cars to be mixed in with, going back to MARS.
Chairman Prcela said, there’s a lot of signs already on that street, I wonder if adding another sign would alleviate that. I’m a little concerned whether that does or doesn’t, I don’t know.
Mr. Syracuse said, the reason why I’m asking these questions, what I’m getting at is it seems like there’s a less invasive way of doing that rather than granting three variances under our sign code. We’re supposed to consider whether;
- The conditions upon which the application for the variance is based are particular to the subject property with respect to the physical size, shape or other characteristics of the premises or adjoining premises, differentiating it from other premises in the same district; or that
- The variance would result in an improvement of the property that is more appropriate and more beneficial to the community than would be the case without granting a variance.
Factors to consider;
- Will the property in question yield a reasonable return or can there be any beneficial use of the property without the variance? I don’t think they’re meeting that.
- Whether the variance is substantial or the minimum necessary to afford relief.
I’m thinking there’s an easier way to direct traffic than putting up a ground sign which may set a precedent for other tenants and other business owners in Mayfield Village. If you granted that based on just a second drive there, you could be opening a court case for a lot of these requests that could lead to litigation.
Bert Toth said, we’re trying to simplify this because MARS has a retail operation and it’s confusing for them too. We’d like to do this with a new sign dedicated to QED and the Research Center and then return the original sign/existing sign to MARS to help them out. We’ll take our name off of the existing sign.
Chairman Prcela asked, we’re allowed one sign per parcel, right?
Mr. Marrelli replied, one ground sign per parcel, right. One of the unique aspects of this property though is that it’s on the corner and it has a horseshoe driveway which is kind of odd.
Mr. Syracuse asked, are there any other properties in the Village you could think of that have a similar situation?
Mr. Marrelli replied, First Energy has it but you have to go through their garage to use the horseshoe driveway.
Chairman Prcela said, First Energy doesn’t have a retail customer base. I hear what you’re saying Vetus, we definitely don’t want to be setting a precedence with this. I would tend to concur with Mr. Marrelli that there is a slight bit of practical difficulty on this curve with the two driveways specific to this lot.
Mr. Syracuse said, but again if there’s a less restrictive way other than a variance, that’s the last thing you go to, is a variance.
Mr. Marrelli said, if you would put one ground sign in the middle of this property, it won’t alleviate this problem. It won’t help.
Chairman Prcela agreed.
Mr. Syracuse said, I like the design, I like the sign. I’m just looking at the standards and the burden we have to decide based on. That’s my concern. I feel we have to follow what our guidelines are in how we do this without setting precedence for others.
Mr. Michalko said, the third variance request for the “V” shape sign, there’s already precedence set there, Mayfran has a “V” sign.
Mr. Syracuse said, the “V” sign is not really a main concern. It’s the ground sign that concerns me, not the design of the sign.
Sam Costiuc said, Panzica has two ground signs on their lot. I don’t know if that’s a precedent.
Mr. Marrelli asked, what property?
Sam Costiuc replied, 731 Beta.
Mr. Marrelli asked, that’s where you’re at, right?
Sam Costiuc replied, yes. We have one in the center and one by the drive.
Mr. Syracuse asked John, as far as the 10’ setback which is closer than the Village allows, they said if they go any farther back it would block the Mayfran sign. Do you believe that assessment?
Mr. Marrelli replied, I was out there with a tape measure with Bert. We did a site analysis in the field and that seemed to be the best spot to not block the Mayfran sign. We don’t want to fix one problem and create another one.
Chairman Prcela asked, has anyone spoken with Mayfran?
Mr. Marrelli replied, I don’t know if you guys have, I didn’t. Nobody has come to me from Mayfran. It’ll actually help them if QED’s visitors from out of the country stop going in their driveway and getting caught in the guard shack over there.
Mr. DiFranco said, so we’re only allowed one ground sign. If you have a parcel like this one where there’s several businesses stacked going back, you’d have a multi-tenant sign which may not be sufficient for the businesses.
Chairman Prcela said, which is exactly what they have right now.
Mr. Marrelli said, MARS really changes the complex because of the truck and retail traffic. Nobody else has that. Nobody else has semi’s delivering and neighbors coming to buy receptacles at the same time you have an office building trying to function. Everybody is squeezing in this one driveway. It gets confusing in there.
Chairman Prcela asked Vetus to repeat the part of the practical difficulty test in whether it improves the parcel for the Village.
Mr. Syracuse replied, whether the variance is substantial as the minimum necessary to afford relief to the applicant and achieve an appropriate and beneficial improvement of the property or whether the result in improvement of the property is more appropriate and more beneficial to the community without it. I’m looking at least restrictive here. Another thing we have to be concerned with is that this runs with the land. If QED ever leaves this property, the next business that comes in will have a “V” shape sign in that area and they’ll be able to use it too. There are other ways I think this can be done, I’m not sure that this meets the practical difficulty standard. I like the concept, I do see that there is some uniqueness with this being a corner lot.
Chairman Prcela asked, how does the traffic flow now?
Mr. Marrelli replied, there’s one driveway that semi’s pull in and the employees pull in and the retail customers pull in. What happens is once you get into the throw of the thing then the semi’s are supposed to veer to the right and customers and employees go straight and find their parking spot. That’s that part of the driveway. Now where the visitors come from, they get in that mix.
Bert Toth said, the result of that is we get MARS people at our front door and our people go to MARS.
Mr. Syracuse asked, if a motion is made would we be able to condition this on QED removing themselves from that existing sign and giving MARS their own specific sign and QED their own? The variance request now are for two ground signs.
Chairman Prcela asked, we’re sure this is one parcel?
Mr. Marrelli believes it’s one parcel.
Mr. DiFranco asked, what would prevent somebody else from coming in and saying I have this section now and let’s say they sell off this section and we want our own sign here too and then you chop up this section and somebody else wants a sign in there.
Chairman Prcela replied, here’s what I’d say to that. In future developments, I’m assuming we’re not going to allow two curb cuts. I would almost condition this on as long as this second cut remains.
Mr. Syracuse said, these parking spaces right now are designated just for QED. When you pull in, it’s right in front of you and you do have a directional sign telling you which door to go to. By putting a second ground sign, I don’t see how that helps the traffic flow. I’m not seeing it.
Mr. Michalko asked how wide the circular drive is.
Mr. Marrelli replied, about 22 feet. You’ve got to remember the people that are visiting are Presidents of International companies that don’t want to get caught up behind a semi truck and people crisscrossing in the parking lot. It looks bad.
Chairman Prcela said John, you seem to feel pretty strongly on this.
- Discussion on Conditions to Consider
Mr. Marrelli replied, I don’t see any harm in it. If you’re worried about later if QED moved out of town, then have them remove the thing.
Chairman Prcela asked, you’d condition it on the tenant? I’d condition it on any changes to that curb or parking.
Mr. Marrelli said, you could put those conditions on it.
Mr. Syracuse asked, would we need a Restrictive Covenant from the Law Dept for that?
Mr. Marrelli replied, I think we could just put it into the mix.
Chairman Prcela asked, what does the landlord say on this?
Mr. Marrelli replied, the landlord is quiet on the subject. He said do what you have to do. I personally just don’t like the fact that you have some very important International customers coming in there and getting caught up in this gauntlet of cars.
Mr. DiFranco said, I see your point but I think it’s irrelevant to what we should be looking for here.
Mr. Marrelli asked, what’s the answer?
Mr. DiFranco said, the big point that Vetus is trying to make is that we can’t set precedence here for someone else who comes in and wants to do the same thing. Then we’ll have multiple situations. I don’t think conditioning it holds much in terms of teeth either.
Mr. Syracuse said, another factor is whether the property owner purchased the property with knowledge of the zoning restrictions and whether the property owner’s predicament could easily be obviated through some method other than a variance. That’s what I’m getting at. Again, I like this. I want to say yes but I’m looking at what the factors are that we have to consider. I’m not sure that they’re meeting the burden.
Mr. DiFranco asked, are there any other options that you could consider that would not require a variance?
Bert Toth replied, we have the existing sign but I think we’re at the largest physical sign we could have and we have to share. Now we have a third tenant with the Research Center and we have to split it even further. We’re looking for the Research Center to do patient’s eventually which would be even more doctors and technicians from surrounding Medical Institutions visiting us.
Mr. Syracuse asked, will both the MARS & QED sign have the same address?
Bert Toth replied yes, different suite numbers.
Mr. Michalko said, with MARS new signage on their building, you could see it as you pull in, you know to go straight back towards it.
Chairman Prcela said, I would argue that I don’t see any parcels that are on two curb cuts other than First Energy directly across the street. How many curb cuts does Mayfran have?
Mr. Marrelli replied, two.
Chairman Prcela said, two with one sign but they’re a single tenant use.
Mr. Marrelli said, I don’t know how they control their traffic. I think they have a guardhouse at the driveway. Do they have one or two drives?
Bert Toth replied, single drive then it splits.
Mr. Marrelli notes that Mayfran is a single user, manufacturer. This here is a strange situation where you’ve got deliveries, retail and office all mixed in one building.
Mr. DiFranco asked Chairman, so the practical difficulty in your mind would suggest that these variances would be acceptable because of the curve and two curb cuts?
Chairman Prcela replied, variance #1 for sure. The other two I’m not 100% sold on. My personal opinion would be with this curved lot and traffic coming at it, I think that would help direct traffic. I don’t know that the “V” shape sign is the right answer.
Mr. Michalko said, I got out and walked the area to picture how the sign would be, you could see it from one side by placing it to be perpendicular, but you couldn’t see it coming from the other side.
Bert Toth said, I guess we’re a victim of geography. Maybe we picked the wrong building on the wrong corner.
Chairman Prcela said, it probably wasn’t an issue before.
Bert Toth replied, MARS was warehousing in the north part of the building, but it changed to warehousing / retail. That confused not only the drivers but the amount of traffic that you all see now.
Chairman Prcela states, in my personal opinion, I think having a sign for MARS here and a sign for the other two here makes good sense for traffic. I don’t know the intent of the ordinance.
Mr. Syracuse said, I would agree with you in that a condition be that the signs reflect MARS only for that entrance and QED only for the other entrance. As well as the other condition mentioned on the two curb cuts.
- Architectural Review Board for Sign Design
Chairman Prcela asked about the graphics on the sign.
Mr. Marrelli replied, ARB will review the sign proposal on Oct 26th.
Chairman Prcela said, I think it’s too busy. I don’t mean any disrespect.
Sam Costiuc said, we actually didn’t design it. It was given to us for the fabricating.
Chairman Prcela said, I think we’re all on the same page. I know we have to be very careful what precedence we set.
Mr. Marrelli said, imagine the intent of the sign code going back in history. If you had a multi-tenant building, you didn’t have every tenant putting a sign out in the front yard. They settled on one sign for one property. Then of course if there’s a topographical issue or a hardship of some kind then you go through the appeal process which is what brings us to today. But, that doesn’t mean if there’s 5 tenants they could have 5 ground signs. Don’t forget, these driveways are so far apart, it’s hard to even know they’re on the same property. I don’t know what the linear feet is but it’s got to be 300,400, or 500 feet apart.
Sam Costiuc asked, do we think this is the only unique situation in the Village?
Mr. Marrelli replied, you’ve got this weird corner and a double driveway on the inside of the corner. When you’re coming around the turn and you’re not looking that way, you’re looking where you’re going, you’ve got to make a snap decision on where you’re pulling in.
Bert Toth said the existing sign has QED & MARS, now we have to put in the Research Center, now we have three, now we have a smaller footprint for each of those three signs. That’s why we said we’ll volunteer the existing sign back to MARS.
Mr. Syracuse asked what happens when the third tenant comes in. Where does that go?
Sam Costiuc replied, it’ll go on QED’s sign.
Chairman Prcela asked John, you’re supportive of this?
Mr. Marrelli replied, I’ve been there, seen the people scurrying to get to where they’re supposed to go. Here again, I think it’s a unique situation with the retail, warehousing & office use all coming into the same driveway and soon the Research Center.
Mr. Syracuse asked, people who come in for MARS, do they take up your spots ever? Is that a problem?
Bert Toth replied, that’s a problem with overflow especially with trucks. We work on that continuously with our MARS friends.
Mr. Michalko said, based on past experience seeing where the present sign is right now, if we get a snow storm, when they plow that driveway, most of that sign’s going to be covered up coming in from the east. Piles of snow will be up along that curb.
Chairman Prcela asked, the second variance is something you suggested?
Mr. Marrelli replied, the setback yes, for visibility reasons. That’s so you don’t end up putting one sign in front of the other and causing the next guy a hardship when they can’t see his sign.
Mr. DiFranco asked, is the suggestion to being closer to the road?
Mr. Marrelli replied, yes. Mayfran’s sign next door is further back. To keep them from being right next to each other and have the new sign block Mayfran will cause another problem. Now you’ll have visibility like a stacking affect between these signs. To push it back, you’ll have trees in the way and that doesn’t help.
Mr. DiFranco asked, you can’t push it further back?
Bert Toth said, it’ll be 13’ off the drive. Pushing it back would obscure the Mayfran sign. The Euclid Industries original sign was 50’ inward towards the front of the building.
Mr. Marrelli said, we’ve changed the way the buildings are being used. 700 Beta used to be Stanley Tool, one user. Now we have multi-tenants, mixed uses.
Mr. Syracuse said Joe, you mentioned conditions you’d consider. In looking at those factors and the ones that kind of work against the applicant. In granting an area variance we need to determine that one or both of the following factors are met by the request;
- The conditions upon which the application for the variance is based are particular to the subject property with respect to the physical size, shape or other characteristics of the premises or adjoining premises, differentiating it from other premises in the same district.
Mr. Syracuse states, I think they may meet that burden because of the uniqueness. And then also;
- The variance would result in an improvement of the property that is more appropriate and more beneficial to the community than would be the case without granting of the variance.
They have to meet one or both of those, but considering Mr. Marrelli’s determination that this actually makes it safer for traffic and everyone else. If we do put these conditions on, they might be close to meeting the burden.
Mr. Marrelli said, the community uses this facility for the retail aspect of it and a lot of people that work there live here. I see it as a benefit to the community just to not have an accident on the corner.
Chairman Prcela agreed. The variance if it goes that way would be on the fact that it’s an irregular shaped lot.
Mr. Syracuse, seconded by Mr. DiFranco made a motion to approve the (3) three variance requests from Section 1185.15 (c) (4) to allow for two ground signs at 6655 Beta Dr. conditioned upon;
- The existing east side ground sign to be modified, dedicated to MARS.
- The two existing curb cuts remain in their current format.
- If the west curb cut ceases to exist, then the ground sign would have to be removed.
Ayes: Mr. Prcela, Mr. Syracuse, Mr. DiFranco, Mr. Michalko
Motion Carried. Variances Approved with Conditions As Noted.
Right to Appeal
Chairman Prcela stated written notice will be mailed by the Building Department confirming the decision and any interested party has the right to appeal within 10 days.
Mr. DiFranco, seconded by Mr. Prcela made a motion to adjourn the meeting.
Motion Carried. Meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.