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CEFCO Convenience Store Sign Variance Request Receives Limited Conditional Approval

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A convenience store sign variance request received limited conditional approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustment and Appeals Tuesday evening.

CEFCO asked to be allowed two signs for a total of 465.7-square feet of signage, including a high rise sign 100 feet tall with 144-square feet of sign, plus a price sign that is 321.7-square feet. The city’s sign ordinance caps pole signs at 150 square feet in size, requires a 15-foot setback from the property line and 40 foot height limitation.

Guy Slimp speaking for CEFCO about signs for a convenience store on the northeast corner of I-30 on Industrial Drive at Hillcrest Drive during the Nov. 22, 2022 Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals meeting.

That means CEFCO asks for a variance of 60 feet in height and 315.7-square feet in size, which would be 150% in excessive height and 210.5% in excess of size requirements.

Assistant City Manager Manager/Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski said the city sent certified letters to 14 residents within 200 feet of the property, notifying them of the variance request. The city received one response in favor of, and one in opposition to the request. The opposition expressed concern about light being detrimental to the residential neighborhood that backs up to the site.

Niewiadomski told the ZBA at the board’s Nov. 22 meeting that the airport director was consulted. He reviewed an aeronautical study for the site and found that the proposal does not present a hazard to air navigation. However, if approved, any temporary construction equipment that exceeds 100 feet above grade level would require additional notice to the FAA.

The Hillcrest Drive overpass and trees along I-30 west were sited as hardships which could limit visibility of the sign to interstate traffic, which could be a difficulty in being competitive with other surrounding businesses.

The planned convenience store will have four lanes of diesel for vehicles powered by the fuel, but would not be a truck stop as it does not have long-term parking for trucks to lodge overnight.

Niewiadomski noted there are some trees blocking exposure of the sign from the east, however, some of those trees likely will be removed when the store is built and signs go up. Currently, the existing billboard can be seen by traffic from the west despite the overpass, and the sign is not 100 feet tall. City staff recommended the sign be 40 feet tall, which should still make the sign visible for convenience store, while protecting the neighborhood to the north from light pollution.

It is customary for stations that sell fuel to advertise gas prices on a sign, the assistant city manager noted. For instance, Love’s was granted a variance for a sign and ended up putting up a digital sign that’s 9-feet, 8 inches by 19 foot, four inches for a total of 187 square feet and changes between diesel and gas prices, Niewiadomski noted.

Elevation and trees were reported to be factors in granting a sign variance for Love’s, on the southwest side of I-30 and the Hillcrest Drive (SH 19) overpass.

CEFCO representative Guy Slimp noted the existing billboard at the location presents difficulty, as it can’t be placed in front of the billboard, but still needs to be seen from I-30. CEFCO tried to buy the billboard but the owner does not want to sell it. He said the business is primarily focusing on westbound traffic as eastbound traffic on I-30 would be more likely to frequent the businesses on the south side of I-30. He indicated a desire to alert motorists, especially trucks, far enough prior to the exit that they have time to safely get over and exit I-30.

Zoning Board of Adjustments and Appeals meeting Nov. 22, 2022

Texas Department of Transportation is still scheduled to evaluate the exit, and is expected to move hte exit back further east, which would require motorist to be able to see the signs even further back so they can get over sooner to exit, officials noted. Niewiadomski said TxDOT has been amenable to a traffic light in the area to help with traffic direction on SH 19 in the area of the overpass.

ZBA member Kyle Robinson said more information is needed regarding elevations in the area compared to other signs approved for similar businesses. ZBA member Kevin Mohl said the station’s location in relationship to the sign should also be considered. It would not be fair to give say Love’s a variance but not CEFCO. Both said they could approve the size recommended by the city staff, then if the sign isn’t visible the business could return before the city officials to note that and again request a variance based on that.

The ZBA agreed with the recommendation of city staff, approving up to a 40-foot tall pole sign along Industrial Drive, with up to 331 square feet of total sign area to balance communications efficiency and to preserve environmental quality and preservation. The business will be required to follow any and all requirements of the FAA for constructing the sign as referenced to the communication for the airport director.

Other Business

The Zoning Board of Adjustments also welcomed Gary Clem to the board Tuesday night, approved the minutes of the last meeting on Jan. 25, 2022, a temporary use permit for a construction trailer during construction of a on Wildcat Way and modifications to a special use permit for Ladera RV Resort to be constructed at 1229 Loop 301.

Niewiadomski noted that board likely will be called to meet in December to discuss at least one variance. ZBA meets at 5:30 p.m. the third Tuesday of the month, when needed.

Author: Faith Huffman

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