Town of Emmitsburg
300A S. Seton Ave Emmitsburg, Maryland

Planning Commission Minutes
Emmitsburg Town Office
April 26, 2004

Agenda Items:

Free Standing Sign Request in Village Zone B continued from March meeting.

Mr. Lucas presented a staff report following his site visit and review of the pertinent town ordinances (see attached). Staff concluded that a free-standing sign was not permitted under the current ordinances which were adopted at the request of the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2002. A sign attached to the primary structure would be permitted under the existing ordinances.

The applicant, Ms Thelma Richardson of 400 West Main Street maintained her request for a free-standing sign. She maintained that a sign attached to the house, her future business location, would be less visible from Main Street. Mr. Staiger asked Mr. Lucas if there were other free-standing signs in the village zone.

Mr. Lucas replied that there were such signs but that they predated the current ordinance and could not be replaced if removed under the current town ordinances. Commissioner Sweeney commented that a sign attached to the house would be difficult to see while driving along Main Street. Mr. Lind agreed, adding that the house was not on the sidewalk and was one of the few on Main Street which are set back.

Mr. Briggs noted the need to promote destination retail in the Village Zone, the difficulty of seeing a sign placed on the house, and encouraged some sort of solution. Commissioner Sweeney asked Mr. Lucas if a special exception could be granted but Mr. Lucas responded that he felt this would remove the teeth of the existing ordinance and prevent the ability to adequately control signage in the Village Zone. Mr. Lucas added that it would be better to request a text amendment. Commissioner Sweeney asked Mr. Lucas if it would be possible to create a text amendment addressing houses that are set back from the street.

 Mr. Lucas responded yes, if a motion was made and approved. Mr. Staiger commented on the need to consider the effect of such a text amendment throughout the Main Street area and asked Mr. Lucas why a 35 foot setback was required when no structures on Main Street met such a requirement. He asked if the intent was to prevent free-standing signs all together. Mr. Lucas responded that he was not aware that was the case. Mr. Staiger advised that as the ordinance is currently written, the current application should not be approved although the commission could request a text amendment allowing the application under certain conditions. Mr. Lucas added that the applicant would have to withdrawal the current request. Ms. Richardson decided to withdrawal her current application.

MOTION by Commissioner Sweeney: to direct staff to research a text amendment allowing for free standing signs in the village zone under certain conditions, including where the building in question is set back from the sidewalk and view of a sign attached that structure would be obscured by neighboring buildings. Motion seconded by Mr. Lind.  VOTE: Approved 4-0

Continuing Review of the 1998 Comprehensive Plan

Chairman Staiger inquired about the status of the update of sections one through three. Mr. Lucas commented that the entire document should soon be converted from a text copy to a Word file that could then be edited on the computer.

There being no more business to conduct, Chairman Staiger requested a motion to adjourn.
MOTION: to adjourn by Mr. Briggs and seconded by Mr. Lind

VOTE: 4-0 to approve the motion to adjourn.