Ready to see taller signs?

Columbus Crossing businesses are one meeting away from an opportunity to have less restrictive sign requirements on property leading into the city from the west side.

Columbus City Council members gave initial approval Sept. 1 to replace restrictive sign rules in the Columbus Crossing planned unit development with more lenient language that conforms to surrounding zoning.

The proposal gives the Columbus Plan Commission oversight and approval responsibilities about which signs to allow and how large those signs could be, based on zoning rules.

Frank Miller was the only council member who voted against the proposal, saying there had been a lot of work done to come up with the rules for the city’s front-door entryway from the west.

In a presentation before the vote, city planning director Jeff Bergman said as many as 12 lots in the Columbus Crossing area could be eligible for larger signs, including 90-foot signs visible to the interstate, if the change were approved.

Miller suggested that few motorists traveling 65 mph down the interstate would be able to exit when they saw an interstate sign in the area as they would already be past it.

But council member Ryan Brand said he finds himself making note of the larger signs as he travels in case he wants to stop at that exit on the return trip.

The larger 90-foot interstate signs are already approved in the zoning area surrounding the planned unit development, Brand said. That includes west-side retail outlets such as IHOP, AutoZone and McDonald’s.

Because of the leeway already given to those businesses, and that the city isn’t really hiding that retail located in Columbus Crossing, Brand said he was in favor of allowing plan commission members to have some discretion on the signs beyond the current restrictions.

Council member Frank Jerome said it was a matter of fairness.

Businesses outside the planned unit development but in the same geographical area shouldn’t have to operate under a different set of rules, Jerome said.

The issue of restrictive sign rules in Columbus Crossing began when Chevrolet of Columbus was denied a tax abatement for property it then had planned to buy on a cul-de-sac between I-65 and Sam’s Club in Columbus Crossing.

The dealership, which purchased the property and is building a dealership there, hopes to have a sign visible from the interstate, far larger than the 6-foot one currently permitted. A tree line runs along side the dealership’s lot bordering the interstate, and the dealership wants the sign to be visible above the trees.

What's next

The Columbus City Council will consider easing zoning restrictions about signs in the Columbus Crossing Planned Unit Development at a meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 15 at City Hall.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.