City Council OKs electronic reader boards for Heritage MarketElectronic reader boards will be permitted on commercial lots fronting Hwy. 35 and Hanley Road under a master sign plan for the Heritage Greens development approved by the Hudson City Council on March 16.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Electronic reader boards will be permitted on commercial lots fronting Hwy. 35 and Hanley Road under a master sign plan for the Heritage Greens development approved by the Hudson City Council on March 16.
City staff and the city’s Plan Commission have been considering the sign plan since Heritage Greens’ commercial area was expanded to up to nine acres last August.
City officials had concerns about the number and types of signs initially proposed by the developer, T V & H Properties. C.R. Hackworthy and his son Nick are principals of the company.
The compromise plan recommended by the Plan Commission and approved by the City Council allows four different types of signs in the commercial area named Heritage Market.
It allows four “neighborhood” signs that identify the area or direct traffic to it. The tallest is a 35-foot sign abutting Hwy. 35. The face of the sign isn’t to exceed 135 square feet.
The other neighborhood signs are a 15-foot-tall one at the Hanley Road entrance to the development and two lower directional signs to small parks – Harmony Green and Market Green. The neighborhood signs will have panels listing the Heritage Market businesses.
T V & H Properties initially wanted a digital reader board on the highway neighborhood sign.
The Plan Commission objected to that over concern about the effect on nearby residential properties.
Instead, the commission recommended allowing the reader boards on 15-foot-tall, free-standing “perimeter” signs on lots abutting Hwy. 35 or Hanley Road.
There currently are two commercial lots fronting Hwy. 35 or Hanley Road. Another three lots on Hwy. 35 are designated as “flex” lots, meaning either commercial or residential uses will be allowed on them (with city approval).
The Heritage Market plan designates 5.6 acres of commercial property, 1.9 acres of flex property and 1.5 acres of “limited flex” property. There’s a one-story limit on the height of buildings on the limited flex lot.
The request for electronic reader board signs was driven partly by Royal Credit Union’s purchase of 3.1 acres on Hwy. 35 and Hanley Road.
The Eau Claire-based credit union intends to build a branch office on the site.
Nick Hackworthy told the Plan Commission on March 12 that allowing reader boards would help bring businesses to the development.
He indicated that T V & H Properties wants to attract a major chain drug store to the lot next to the entrance to Heritage Market. Permission for a reader board would aid in the effort, he suggested.
The Plan Commission’s recommendation was to also consider allowing a reader board on one or more of the flex lots fronting Hwy. 35.
The electronic portion of the perimeter signs will be limited to 30 square feet. The maximum size of the sign faces (including the reader boards) will be limited to 80 square feet. The reader boards will be allowed on both sides of the signs.
Mayor Dean Knudson said he was “sort of all right” with allowing reader boards on the 15-foot perimeter signs. The signs are low enough that buildings and trees should shield them from the nearby residential areas, he said.
The Plan Commission and City Council will review specific plans for each sign when they consider final development plans for the lots.
Community Development Director Dennis Darnold said businesses could be required to do things to mitigate the impact of the reader boards on neighboring residential properties.
Darnold had recommended allowing just one electronic reader board (on the perimeter sign for Royal Credit Union).
Alderperson Alan Burchill, also a member of the Plan Commission, supported the commission’s sign plan recommendation.
Burchill said the issue had been before the commission three times, and that the commission’s recommendation was “a good compromise.”
Also allowed under the plan are “interior” signs located at or near the parking entrances for Heritage Market businesses. The interior signs will be limited to eight feet in height and 32 square feet of face area.
Signs on the building exteriors will be permitted under the same parameters that the city’s sign ordinance establishes for commercial buildings elsewhere in the city.
Alderperson Pam Brokaw, who represents the 2nd District in which Heritage Greens is located, had requested that the council postpone action on the sign plan because she wouldn’t be at the March 16 meeting. But the council went ahead to approve the plan on a 4-0 vote.
Burchill moved to accept the plan and it was seconded by Alderperson Lee Wayland.
Alderperson Scot O’Malley withdrew himself from the discussion and the vote. He didn’t say why.
In other business, the council: