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City Council OKs electronic reader boards for Heritage Market

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.

Other business:

In other business, the council:

  • Approved the Hudson Boosters' application for a special event permit for the 2009 Booster Days. The annual celebration is scheduled for Thursday, July 2, through Sunday, July 5, in Lakefront Park.
  • Approved the Boosters' application for a temporary license to sell beer and wine at a Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour event on Tuesday, May 12, in Lakefront Park. Packers President Mike Murphy and players Nick Collins, Jordy Nelson and Brady Poppinga are slated to be on hand for the 5-10 p.m. event. The 650 tickets are already sold out. Cost was $25 each.
  • Accepted a $4,000 urban forestry grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The money, matched by $4,000 from the city, will be used to buy sapling shade trees. Knudson said the city will recruit volunteers to plant the trees.
  • Heard Mayor Knudson announce the appointment of Suzanne Fallon to the Park Board. Fallon, a resident of Orange Street, will serve out the remaining three and a half years of Tammy Erskine's five-year term. Knudson said Erskine had resigned from the Park Board. He said Fallon is an attorney and former corporate executive who now operates her own business.
  • Decided to join the state government's road salt purchasing program for 2010. O'Malley, chairman of the Public Works Committee, said the city paid a company located in the Twin Cities $103 per ton for salt this past winter compared to the $55-per-ton price the state was able to get for municipalities. In previous years, the price the city had been able to buy salt at was roughly equal to the price offered by the state. The risk in buying salt through the state is that the city won't know what the price will be until the state announces it.
  • Issued a license to operate a taxi cab service to Thomas M. Gichondo, 344 Southern Pacific Road, Hudson. Gichondo's Gold Cab company is now the third licensed to operate in the city. He has one cab - a 1997 Geo Prism, according to his application.
  • Voted to advertise for bids on the curbside pickup of garbage and recyclables beginning in 2010. The city's current refuse contract with Veolia expires at the end of the year.
  • Amended a city ordinance requiring property owners to shovel their sidewalks to include a statement that pedestrian ramps must be shoveled too. City Compliance Officer Dave Krupich was said to have requested the amendment. Krupich reportedly said he couldn't require property owners to shovel the wheelchair ramps to their full width without the new language in Municipal Code Chapter 212-9.
  • Approved the installation of a stop sign, a yield sign and pedestrian crossing marks and signage in the Red Cedar Canyon subdivision. The signs were requested by neighborhood resident Mary Yacoub and recommended by Police Chief Marty Jensen. The stop sign will be installed on Canyon Boulevard at West Canyon Drive. The yield sign will be placed on Prosperity Way (Ashbury Court) at Tribute Way. The crosswalks will be created at Dunberry Pass and East Canyon Drive, Springhill Bay and East Canyon Drive, and Springbrook Bay and East Canyon Drive.
  • Designated two 10-minute parking spaces on the west side of Second Street at Walnut Street, in front of the Dragon Pearl restaurant and Bert's Coffee Café. A 10-minute parking space on Walnut Street next to the restaurant will be restored to a metered parking space.
  • Approved the use of Lakefront Park for the annual Gopher-to-Badger foot race scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 8, and the annual St. Croix Valley Triathlon races set for Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 5-6.
  • Authorized the Locust Street classic car shows to be held Friday evenings, May 8, June 12, July 10, Aug. 14 and Sept. 11.
  • Reviewed and approved the continuation of the conditional use permit for the Caribbean Car Wash fuel station at 1611 Maxwell Drive.
  • Went into closed session to confer with City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick regarding possible legal action concerning the St. Croix EMS billing services contract.

  • Randy Hanson

    Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

    (715) 426-1066