STERLING – The Plan Commission on Thursday denied a petition from Northland Mall to amend the city’s sign code to allow a new tenant to display signage on an exterior wall of the building.
Dunham’s Sports, in its lease agreement with the mall, made wall space next to The Spot restaurant its preferred choice for displaying its name.
Under city code, the only mall tenants allowed to display signage on the building’s exterior walls are anchor stores that have a separate entrance and exit leading outdoors. Because Dunham’s has no front door, the petition requests that anchor stores with square footage in excess of 45,000 square feet be allowed to put up the exterior signs.
The petition had been put before the council on Aug. 4, but was sent back to the Plan Commission for further study.
The petition said that a store with the square footage of Dunham’s should classify it as an anchor tenant and its size “necessitates a larger advertising presence to maintain expected revenues and long-term suitability.”
City consultant Dustin Wolff said city staff was not supportive of the change as proposed when two other options exist within the parameters of the code.
“If this change is allowed, it would apply to any tenant of more than 45,000 square feet in any mall, not just Northland,” he said. “We worked very hard on a sign code that gives some latitude, and the code works.”
The other options suggested were a freestanding sign or available marquee space over the main mall entrance. Space is available where Pet Supplies Plus used to be on the freestanding sign with Bergner’s and J.C. Penney.
“The onus is on the mall to sell this to the community as to why the other options aren’t acceptable,” Wolff said.
Karyn Brouilette, the mall’s general manager, was concerned that the Northland Mall sign above the main entrance space would be removed if Dunham’s went there.
Brouilette was asked if any other options had been discussed with Dunham’s.
“This was the option they wanted in the lease if it were possible, and I really don’t want to have to tell them they can’t have it,” she said.
Some commissioners believed other advertising options would be better options for Dunham’s.
“I want to hear tenant concerns, but as a customer, I would be confused because there is no door into the building, and signage there would make me think there’s an entryway there,” Karen Chevalier said.
Commissioner Bob Conklin agreed with Chevalier.
“I wish I knew the reasoning for their sign preference,” he said. “I’d pay extra to have the marquee spot above the main entrance.”
The mall’s petition to amend the code as presented was denied 5-1, with Chevalier the lone supporter.
In other matters, the commission changed language in its draft for governing medical marijuana cultivation centers and dispensaries.
The language which had said dispensaries had to be at least 1,000 feet from a residential district was changed to 500 feet. Churches were taken out of the location requirement list. Places of worship had been in the list with schools, day care centers, parks and other and youth centers, as places where cultivation centers had to be at least 2,500 feet away from the property lines.