Once he had more information about the new sign the Kosciusko County Convention & Visitors Bureau plans to install, a remonstrator changed his mind at the Warsaw Board of Zoning Appeals meeting Monday night.
The Baldus Company, on behalf of the KCCVB, petitioned the board for a variance from development standards to allow a 24-feet-high, 191-square-feet sign in a Commercial-3 zoning district at 111 Capital Drive. Assistant City Planner Jackson Longenbaugh said 150 square feet is the maximum allowed. The parcel is along the U.S. 30 corridor and currently has a large V-shaped sign to attract visitors.
“Having a smaller sign could be detrimental to the Visitors Center and the community. The petitioner is looking to replace the large original sign with an updated and modern sign that will continue to attract and promote tourism,” Longenbaugh stated.
He said it was the Warsaw Planning Department’s opinion that the variance be approved.
Hugh Baldus, co-owner of The Baldus Company, said the current KCCVB sign is approximately 150 square feet, depending on how one measures it. The new sign will be larger in square footage, but shorter in height.
BZA member Dan Smith said he liked the new sign, to which Board Vice President Rick Keeven agreed.
Cori Humes, KCCVB executive director, said, “We’re really looking forward to the possibility of having this sign.” She said the current sign has been standing for almost 25 years. “We’re just trying to increase awareness of tourism in Kosciusko County and grab any visitors that are coming off U.S. 30 to our area.”
Charles McPherson, a neighbor of the Visitors Center, then stated he was opposed to the sign for two reasons. The first reason was because he believed it would negatively affect his property value “having an extra sign that large in our neighbor’s yard.” The second reason was because he believed the sign would negatively affect quality of life with too much light from the sign coming through his home’s windows.
He asked what would it take to stop the sign. Keeven said it would take a vote from the board. McPherson said he just got a notice Friday that he had a registered letter at the post office and that’s when he learned of the petition, so he only had since Friday to prepare for Monday’s meeting.
Humes said the new sign will be in the same location as the existing V-shaped sign and will be shorter so it really shouldn’t project too much light.
Keeven showed McPherson a rendering of the new sign, with the current V-shaped sign outlined behind it.
“Having seen the picture, I could support that sign,” McPherson stated.
Baldus said the sign automatically dims down at sunset in a 100-step sequence to be 7% of its daytime brightness.
The zoning board unanimously approved the petition.
After the meeting, Baldus said they hope to get the new sign up before Thanksgiving, weather dependant.
Another petition before the board had questions from a neighbor concerned about increased traffic, but she didn’t remonstrate against it.
Eric Thomas, president and owner of several Home Instead franchises, requested a use variance to allow a professional office at 1409 E. Center St. in a Residential-2 district. Longenbaugh said the zoning district only allows home-based businesses with conditions.
In this case, the petitioner does not live at the property, and the office will generally have one employee working regular business hours. Longenbaugh said there is potential to see a few employees or caregivers throughout the week for training purposes, but there won’t be any caregiving at the property.
“This property is in the Center Street corridor, which is experiencing a transition from residential to commercial/office uses ... The residential character will be maintained throughout future improvements, such as a new roof. This property can return to residential use in the future,” Longenbaugh stated, adding that it was the opinion of the Planning Department that the variance could be approved.
Thomas said Home Instead has offices in Mishawaka, Goshen, Elkhart and “a new territory in this area, this is one of the counties included, so we’d like to have an office here.” He said his purchase of the Center Street property is contingent upon the use variance being approved.
“(I’m) just trying to put an office there. It’s mostly a satellite office. Most of our clients are signed up in the homes, so somebody goes out to the homes, that kind of business isn’t done there. Probably one person, one manager there in the office. Sometimes caregivers will pop in who need help with their app on the phone or pick up gloves or masks or something from the office, or do new caregiver type of training, maybe once a week or once every other week in the office. So it’s a small satellite office,” Thomas explained.
He said they were a non-medical home care business.
Smith asked what kind of caregivers were they training. Thomas said they have hundreds of clients throughout their offices in the counties where they operate now and some of the clients’ common needs are personal care, bathing, dressing, toileting, transfer assistance in their home to stay in their home, but they’re also in different facilities in Elkhart and St. Joe counties.
A unidentified woman expressed concern about increased traffic there but said it didn’t sound like they would have a lot of clients coming and going. Thomas said usually there would be no clients and probably only one vehicle for the Home Instead manager at the Warsaw office.
“They’re pretty quiet. Even the new caregiver training we do now is just done in Mishawaka, but this might be a little too far. We don’t want people we want to work for us to have to drive that far, so we probably would come down here to do training each month or each week possibly. But the two satellite offices we have now are pretty quiet. I don’t think traffic would be an issue,” Thomas said.
The office would be open only Mondays through Fridays, closing at noon Fridays.
The woman asked if they were only going to fix the roof or if there would be other repairs to the building. Thomas said he just got the inspection report back and it was fair to say there would be other improvements.
With no remonstrators, the zoning board unanimously approved the petition by Thomas.
The third petition before the BZA, which they also approved, was Randy Montes’ request for a use variance on Hitzler Street to build an accessory structure for personal use on a lot.
Montes does not live at the property and plans to store personal items, as well as a car. He plans to work on the car as a hobby in the structure.
The lot contains no other buildings, according to Longenbaugh, and the city does not permit accessory structures on lots not associated with a principal structure to ensure residential districts are not encroached upon by nonresidential uses.
The lot is 75 feet wide, does not have immediate access to sanitary sewer and, according to city records, has not been built on. Longenbaugh said there will not be a bathroom in the structure at this point, but there’s potential for a sewer connection with one of the neighbors supposedly.
He said it was the opinion of the Warsaw Planning Department that the variance be approved at Hitzler Street.
There were no remonstrators to the petition, but a neighbor, Paul Henning, spoke in favor of the petition.