By MICHAEL ANICH
JOHNSTOWN - The city Planning Board last week approved a special permit for the Johnstown Mall's new Verizon Wireless outlet, which wants to install a third sign.
The action taken at City Hall also spurred brief discussion about what's appropriate for signs in the city.
The Planning Board's action mirrored action taken recently by the city Zoning Board of Appeals, which was approached by Verizon. The store - in the former Patriot Federal Bank building at the entrance to the Johnstown Mall - is located at 225 N. Comrie Ave. Verizon wants to install a free-standing sign but has two signs already.
City Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said zoning currently allows a business two signs. He said Verizon, which already has a free-standing sign and one on its building, applied for a third sign. He said the ZBA came up with an alternative for the sign, which will be on the southerly portion of Verizon's property and must not exceed 40 square feet. He said this will be a free-standing, "relatively small" sign that "just looks big."
"This was a compromise reached between the Zoning Board of Appeals and the applicant," Heberer said.
Planning Board Chairman Peter K. Smith said he would "like to see some tweaking done" on the city code as it relates to signage and improvement of ordinance language.
"We don't have any regulation over illumination," Smith said. "Some signs that are popping up would be more appropriate on a strip in Las Vegas. I don't think some of the signs give the best impression for the way I'd like to see our city be."
Smith added that more and more businesses will seek special permits.
City Attorney Susan Palmer Johnson said special use permits will always exist "for a variety of reasons, not just signs."
She said applications should be reviewed on a "case by case" basis, and city officials "always have control" in the end.
Board member Terri Easterly agreed, although she said there are limits.
"I think you have to look at every single business on their own terms," she said.
Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at email@example.com.