PUBLIC HEARING AGENDA REQUEST

Owners/Applicants:

Board of Supervisors Meeting Date: 

Warrenton Liberty, LLC (Owner)/Holtzman Oil Corporation (Applicant)

June 11, 2009

Staff Lead:

Department: 

Holly Meade, Senior Planner

Community Development

 

Magisterial District:                                                                                                               PIN:
Center                                                                                                                 6995-00-4401-000 

Service District:
Warrenton                                                                                              

                                                                                                                                               

Topic:

A Resolution to Approve a Special Exception Request (SPEX09-CT-017) for Additional Signage – Warrenton Liberty, LLC (Owner)/Holtzman Oil Corporation (Applicant) – Warrenton Denny’s/Liberty/7-Eleven 

 

Topic Description:

The owner is requesting Special Exception approval to allow additional signage for an existing Denny’s Restaurant, Liberty gas station and 7-Eleven convenience store.  On June 12, 2008, the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors approved a text amendment allowing signage in Commercial and Industrial areas to be increased by not more than one hundred percent (100%) with Special Exception approval, subject to certain findings. 

Warrenton Liberty, LLC is requesting Special Exception approval for approximately 150 square feet of signage above their by-right limit.  The Zoning Ordinance requires all three businesses (restaurant, gas station, and convenience store) to share the allowed sign area, just as if a single business were operating at the site.  Signage in the amount of 150 square feet is allowed for this use without triggering requirements for a Special Exception; this 100% increase can be sought with the recent text amendment.  There is currently 141.05 square feet of signage on the property.  The owner claims that in order to get people to shop there, they need signs visible from Route 29.  The owner’s Statement of Justification (Attachment 1) states that all three businesses are dependent on drive-by visibility and that there are other restaurants, service stations and convenience stores located on the same section of Route 29 that are competing for this same drive-by business.  The owner claims that because of utility easement setbacks, the location of Comfort Inn Drive, and the issue of three businesses having to share the allotted signage, the businesses are suffering.

The owner has provided photographs (Attachment 2) of his location showing the current square footage being utilized, as well as what the site would look like if the Special Exception were approved.  The application package includes drawings of the requested signage as it would appear on the buildings, as well as one drawing comparing the freestanding sign to other freestanding signs along Route 29. 

The owner’s request includes a larger freestanding sign, a larger building-mounted Denny’s and 7-Eleven sign along Route 29, a larger building-mounted Denny’s sign facing the gas pumps, and a larger building-mounted Denny’s sign facing Warrenton Toyota.  In addition to being larger in size, the proposed Denny’s sign will be much brighter with the yellow background.  It is the owner’s intent to move the freestanding sign closer to Route 29. 

The Zoning Office has noted that there are two existing zoning violations on the property:  a “7-Eleven” flag that is being displayed on-site and the large commercial box truck with Denny’s logos that is stored in the customer parking area at the north end of the site adjacent to the entrance.  Staff has included a condition of development for Board of Supervisors’ consideration requiring the zoning violations to be corrected before any new sign permits could be issued.

The owner is requesting an additional 158.25 square feet over the 141.05 square feet already on the building, which equates to a Special Exception request of 149.3 square feet of additional signage.  The owner’s Statement of Justification (Attachment 1) outlines in detail the difficulties under which the businesses are operating.

 

Location,  Zoning and Current Land Use:

The property is located at 7323 Comfort Inn Drive, is zoned Commercial – Highway (C-2), and is the site of a Denny’s restaurant, 7-Eleven convenience store, and Liberty gas station.  

Zoning Map

dennyzoning

Surrounding Zoning and Current Land Use: 

Property to the north, east, and south are all zoned C-2 and contain a variety of commercial land uses.  Property to the south, behind Warrenton Toyota, is zoned Residential (R-1) and is the location of the Cedar Run Subdivision open space.  Property to the west, across Route 29 is zoned Residential (R-2) and is currently vacant. 

Comprehensive Plan/Land Use:  

The property is located within the Warrenton Service District and has a designation in the Comprehensive Plan as Commercial Highway.  The Comprehensive Plan states “a legacy of spot commercial zoning on the south side of Route 15/29 to the northeast of Warrenton has permitted the development of a very successful commercial strip.  However, poor to dangerous traffic access creates considerable roadside friction for patrons and through travelers.” 

Land Use Map 

denningcp

 

Special Exception Analysis:

Article 5-006, General Standards

General standards seek to ensure that the requested use does not adversely affect neighboring properties. The proposed signage is adjacent to other areas planned for Commercial Highway in the Warrenton Service District Plan.  Adjacent sites to the north and south where signs are proposed are all sites of existing businesses.  If approved, the signs would not be visible from the adjoining residential subdivision to the east.  However, additional signage would contribute to the general sign clutter in this area. 

Article 8-1502, Special Exceptions and Permits (Regarding Signage in Commercial and Industrial Zones)

The following findings are required to be considered by the Board in order to grant this Special Exception, provided that the total permitted sign area shall not be increased by more than one hundred percent (100%) and that the total area for any one sign shall not exceed the allowable limits already set forth in Section 8-1501 for particular permitted sign types:

1.         The nature of the proposed use, including such factors as whether the use is a destination or one that relies more on drive-by visibility; and

The use is a Denny’s restaurant, 7-Eleven convenience store, and Liberty gas station which do rely to a considerable extent on drive-by visibility.

2.         The character of the existing area and the impact on the visual appearance of adjacent and nearby properties and rights-of-way, particularly entrances to the County from the interstate highways or surrounding jurisdictions, and the major streets leading from those entrances; and

The existing area contains a variety of commercial uses, including three automobile dealerships, a convenience store, and several restaurants.  The property fronts on Comfort Inn Drive which is classified as a local collector and Route 15/29, which is a major thoroughfare.  If approved, the signs would not be visible from the adjoining residential subdivision to the east.  Given the visually cluttered appearance of this area, the Board of Supervisors may want to include conditions governing the style, color, and/or materials of the signage.

3.      Whether a unique situation exists, causing a need that is not recurring in nature; and

The applicant claims because of the location of the service road, Comfort Inn Drive, easement setbacks and the issue of three businesses sharing the square footage of signage allowed for a single business, a drive-by visibility disadvantage for this location is created.  This would be true of any multi-tenant site on a service road.

4.      The area’s designation in the County’s Comprehensive Plan; and

The area is designated as Commercial Highway in the County’s Comprehensive Plan.

5.         The existence of a special visual obstruction or difficulty in locating the use, making the application of the general provisions of this section too restrictive.

There does not appear to be any visual obstruction; however, the businesses do front on a service road, Comfort Inn Drive, rather than front on Route 29.

Staff and Review Agency Comments: 

Zoning Office

  1. The following is proposed by the applicant:

 

Sign Type

Existing Signs

Proposed Signs

Amount Change

Total

Freestanding*

48.94 sq. ft.*

74.93 sq. ft.*

+25.99 sq. ft.

74.93 sq. ft.*

Wall Sign – 29 Façade

16 sq. ft. (7-Eleven)

16 sq. ft.  (7-Eleven)

0

121.2 sq. ft.

--

48 sq. ft. (7-Eleven)

+48 sq. ft.

18.47 sq. ft. (Denny’s)

57.2 sq. ft. (Denny’s)

+38.73 sq. ft.

Wall Sign – South Façade (Facing Pumps)

16 sq. ft. (7-Eleven)

16 sq. ft. (7-Eleven)

0

48 sq. ft.

18.47 sq. ft. (Denny’s)

32 sq. ft. (Denny’s)

+13.53 sq. ft.

Wall Sign – North Façade (Facing Toyota)

None

32 sq. ft. (Denny’s)

+32 sq. ft.

32 sq. ft.

Canopy

20.47sq. ft.

20.47 sq. ft.

0

20.47 sq. ft.

Directional

1.35 sq. ft.

1.35 sq. ft.

0

2.70 sq. ft.

1.35 sq. ft.

1.35 sq. ft.

0

 

141.05 sq. ft.

299.30 sq. ft.

158.25 sq. ft.

299.30 sq. ft.

* Includes signs for Denny’s, 7-Eleven, Liberty and the fuel price board.

It appears that the types and amount of proposed signage is within the requirements allowed with approval of a Special Exception.

  1. The following Zoning Ordinance standards are applicable:

A.    Section 5-006, General Standards for Special Exception Uses;

B.     Section 8-1502, Special Exceptions and Permits.

  1. It is noted that there are still two existing zoning violations on the subject property: a “7-Eleven” flag that is being displayed on-site, which is not an allowable sign type, and the large commercial box truck with Denny’s logos that is stored in the dedicated customer parking areas at the north end of the site adjacent to the entrance.

A condition requiring the violation to be abated prior to issuance of sign permits has been added for Board of Supervisors’ consideration.

Planning Commission Action of April 30, 2009:

The Planning Commission discussed this item at their work session.  A public hearing was held at which one member of the public spoke in opposition to the proposal due to the sign clutter currently located on this section of Route 29.  Planning Commissioners voiced concern related to the fact that the sign ordinance is currently being updated.  A motion carried three to two (3:2) to approve the Special Exception request subject to conditions.  The conditions recorded by the Planning Commission do not allow an increase in the freestanding sign square footage. 

Summary and Recommendation:

Two resolutions have been included for Board of Supervisors’ consideration.  Resolution 1 includes a Resolution to approve the Special Exception request of the owner, including a larger freestanding sign.  Resolution 2 includes a Resolution to approve the Special Exception request as recommended by the Planning Commission, which excluded the larger freestanding sign.

 

Requested Action of the Board of Supervisors: 

Conduct a public hearing. 

Identify any other Departments, Organizations or Individuals that would be affected by this request:

Commissioner of the Revenue
Department of Economic Development

 

Attachments:

1.          Statement of Justification

2.          Photographs of Site and Photo Simulations

3.     Image Attachment

 

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