Complaints about sign light up Planning Commission meeting

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

A monument sign recently erected at East Town Plaza meets city ordinances, but there are still some residents who have registered complaints with the city about the sign.

New Prague City Planner Renee Christianson told the city's Planning and Zoning commission at its meeting Wednesday, Oct. 25, that the sign for the strip mall along East Main Street does meet the city's rules for size, height and location. The complaints have come from residents Joel Wollin and Gordon Carlson who have concerns about it, mainly the back lighting of the sign at night.

Wollin owns the home on the corner of First Street SE and East Main Street, directly west of the sign. Carlson owns a home on First Street SE and in a letter to the city said the new sign is in direct view of his living room window and felt its position and the light from it affects the value of his property.

Christianson said the residents and the owners of the mall have apparently talked about the sign and, as of the planning meeting, the back light is being turned off at night.

Commission member Bob Gilman said he has been by there at night and noticed that a red light from a message board on the sign is bright. He suggested that if it's a problem they ask that the light be turned off when the mall closes at night.

The city has rules concerning glare from parking areas and signs, but as of the meeting didn't have the equipment to measure it. It was the consensus of the commission that if glare from the sign becomes a problem, the city will address it.

Christianson said after the meeting, the backlighting on the sign has apparently been turned back on and complaints have again been brought to the attention of city staff.

Variance OK'd

The commission unanimously recommended for approval a setback variance requested by Clinton Stocker for a garage he plans to build.

Stocker, of 404 First Ave. NE, is proposing to build an attached 26-foot wide by 36-foot deep, two stall garage. It would line up with the garage already attached to the house.

New Prague City Planner Ken Ondich said the new garage would meet all setbacks except for those on the front. The front setback is 30 feet and the garage would only be 13.7 feet back. Ondich pointed out that the current garage also doesn't meet the setback requirements. The garage and home were built in 1958 before the city had adopted zoning regulations. Other homes in the neighborhood were also built before the city's ordinances were enacted.

Ondich said city staff was recommending the variance be granted, since making the new garage meet the front setback would make it look odd, would not create a uniform appearance in the structure and would not make sense from a construction standpoint.

Adult entertainment ordinance

Christianson informed the commission there had been changes to the state statutes on adult entertainment establishments. The rules were more restrictive in the location and hours of operation.

She had considered asking the city to make changes to its ordinances regarding such establishments that are in line with the state rules. She contacted the city's attorney, Kennedy & Graven, for review of the changes.

The law firm's advice was that the city wait before making any changes. The state statutes are being challenged in court and portions of them may be ruled unconstitutional. If the city has similar rules and if the state rules are struck down, then the city's rules will also be affected. The firm was suggesting that the city wait until the challenge had worked its way through the court system.

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