First Presbyterian Church should soon be able to list service information on the new church sign, which a crew was installing earlier today.
The sign was donated to replace an old sign that was in such bad shape it had to be taken down. However, the church’s initial request to the city zoning board to put up the sign was denied.
The sign required approval of a variance. The church members were told following a Nov. 19 zoning meeting the request was denied due to the size of the sign and the fact that it would or could have animated images, which was not thought consistent with the historical appearance for the property. The sign is 6.27 feet; the rule is for 6 feet.
However, Tuesday, Jan. 21, after speaking with church members and further investigation into the matter, city staff recommended granting the request to allow the church to place the sign on their property.
Sulphur Springs Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski told the Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals that letters had been sent to the 12 property owners around the church who would be most impacted by the sign. Only two returned letters regarding the request, and one was undecided.
Niewiadomski said church members were not represented at the November meeting, but were present Jan. 21 to discuss the matter.
City Attorney Jim McLeroy told the board that he believed had there not been a breakdown at the meeting, which the church members did not attend, the request never would have been presented to the ZBA.
ZBA member James Litzler asked the church members if they were willing to make adjustments to meet the qualifications, including reducing the sign to six feet and asked if it would be a color to match the brick on the building.
Lee Teetes said the sign would be pretty close in color, although the exact color of the building would be hard to match. The brick on the building is more than 100 years old, the length of time the church has been on the property.
Teetes said unfortunately, the sign, which is 6.27 feet can’t be reduced in size because it has already been purchased and is stored inside the building. The $10,000 was donated and the sign was purchased and given to the church.
The city attorney said the boundary lines, which include overlays for the tax reinvestment zone, were established 10-15 years ago with the intent that additional funds would be raised from improved property values within the reinvestment zone to pay for bonds used to fund improvements on the square.
“We tried to identify properties that would have enhanced value. The whole city was affected, but some properties were more directly affected,” McLeroy said.
The church doesn’t fit into that category for increased tax value, even if significant changes were made to increase the property value because it is a church, McLeroy explained.
Litzler pointed out that any lighted sign would be out of character historically for the building due to the age of it.
After further discussion, the church was granted the variance permitting the sign to be installed at First Presbyterian Church. A crew was on site Thursday to install it.