The lyrics from the 1971 hit song "Signs" by Five Man Electrical Band help explain a recent tiff over a set of prominent ads painted on the walls of a downtown Little Rock building:
"Sign, sign, everywhere a sign"
"Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind"
It turns out the large wall signs advertising the businesses at 315 Main St. -- Brewski's Pub and Grub restaurant and the Mulberry Flats apartments -- were breaking the minds of city planning staff members.
The signs are painted on the north and south building facades near the top front corners of the building, in violation of a city ordinance.
The planners cited Section 36-557(a) of the zoning ordinance, which requires that all on-premise wall signs face the street -- in this case, Main Street, which is on the west side of the building.
Rett Tucker, whose Moses Tucker Real Estate firm leases and manages the property, asked the Little Rock Board of Adjustment in December for a variance from the ordinance that would allow the signs to remain.
"The 2 signs, which appear as one, add life and color to Main Street and downtown," Tucker said in the request on Dec. 12. "They demonstrate a vibrancy to what once was a moribund and largely deserted corridor."
But the office said the signs can't be there.
"Staff does not view the request as reasonable," according to board documents. "Staff has been consistent in the past in not supporting large wall signs without direct street frontage."
The signs have "an adverse impact on the adjacent properties and the general area," the office wrote.
The issue was put off for several months at Tucker's request. Armed with some math, he returned with a modified request on April 13 as well as support from surrounding businesses.
Tucker calculated that the front of the building has a height of 85 feet and 2 inches and a width of 50 feet for a total of 4,258 square feet. Under the city zoning ordinance, 10 percent of that footage -- or 425.8 feet -- can be used for signs.
Brewski's already has a sign taking up 16 square feet on the front of the building, which would leave 410 feet for additional space for signs.
"The owners are requesting a trade-off to allow the Mulberry Flats and Brewski's signs, which total 20 by 20 feet (400 square feet) to remain on the south side," Tucker said. "The owners agree not to request any other wall signage on the front facade, but want to reserve the right to add one small projecting sign as allowed by ordinance."
That means the sign on the north facade would go, a scenario the staff found acceptable.
"Staff feels that this is a reasonable 'trade-off' of wall signage from the front building facade to a non-street facing facade," according to board documents. "Staff believes the wall sign on the south building facade will have no adverse impact on the adjacent properties or the general area."
Among those expressing support for Tucker's modified request was Tommy Lasiter, who is redeveloping the Rose Building, which is next door to the pub and apartments. The Rose Building will house two restaurants, A.W. Lin's and Ira's.
"The signage adds more color and life to the street, which is a positive for Main Street and the Creative Corridor," he said.
The board will take up Tucker's modified request at its regular monthly meeting Monday. Typically, requests that have support from the planners go to the board's consent agenda, said Monte Moore, a member of the city's zoning and planning department.
Business on 04/27/2018
Print Headline: Property manager, LR planners reach signs of compromise