A planned new sign for a Fifth Avenue South store was rejected Tuesday by Fort Dodge officials concerned that its placement would shrink a driveway shared with neighboring businesses.
The Board of Adjustment denied a sign variance for Paula's Treasures, 2319 Fifth Ave. S.
Board Chairwoman Susan Hayden said the belief that the proposed sign would further limit access to the store and an adjacent business via an already narrow driveway was a big factor in the decision.
Paula's Treasures, a new and used furniture store, is about 145 feet south of Fifth Avenue South. To get to the store, customers drive through what appears to be part of the parking lot of the Subway restaurant at 2323 Fifth Ave. S., but they are actually using a 23-foot-wide aisle that is part of the Paula's Treasures property.
The store's sign isn't on the store's property. It is on property owned by La'James International College. The college recently asked Paula Anderson, the store owner, to either lease the spot where the sign is or remove it.
That prompted Anderson to propose a plan for replacing the sign with a monument style marker on her own property. To do that, a variance would be needed because under city law signs must be five feet from a property line.
In a Nov. 27 report to the board, Angela Torres, the associate city planner, recommended approving a variance. She noted, however, that a driveway such as the one to Paula's Treasures, is required to be 24 feet wide under city rules.
After she filed the report, it was learned that both Subway and La'James International College have a legal right, called an easement, to use the 23 foot wide space for access to their properties. Documents submitted to the Board of Adjustment indicate that the easement for the Subway property has existed since 1977.
A copy of a temporary injunction Webster County District Court Judge Thomas J. Bice issued on May 27, 2011, directing Anderson not to obstruct the right of easement on that property was among the documents presented to the board.
City Attorney Mark Crimmins sent Torres an email Tuesday afternoon recommending that the board reject the variance.
Anderson and her husband, Keith, made their case for a sign variance to the board Tuesday evening.
''We need signage down by the highway to bring people into our store,'' Keith Anderson said. ''We just need a sign out there to stay in business.''
He said the sign would be off to the side of the 23 foot wide aisle and wouldn't reduce access.
Paula Anderson said the sign would be where a green recycling box now sits.
However, board members Jeanne Gibson, Matt Johnson and Hayden voted to deny the variance. Board members Mike McCarville and Steve Hoesel were absent.
The Andersons would appear to have some options for a sign despite the board's decision La'James International College has offered to let them lease the space where the sign is now. And in a letter to Torres, Eric Eide, the attorney for Subway owner Ted Camamo, said he is willing to talk about shared use of the restaurant's sign. Eide wrote that the Andersons have not approached Camamo about that possibility.