BAR OK’s Sign, Nixes Column

BLYTHEWOOD (Feb. 9, 2017) – The Board of Architectural Review (BAR) on Jan. 23 gave retroactive approval for a digital sign erected last month outside the BP gas station at 231 Blythewood Road.

“That sign was put up a few months ago mistakenly without permit,” Michael Criss, the Town’s consultant, told the BAR, “so you’re dealing with an after-the-fact approval and certificate of appropriateness for a digital sign in the Town Center District.”

BAR Chairman Jim McLean noted that the new sign was “very similar” to other signs that had already received approval by the Board.

“Similar style, design and operation,” Criss agreed. “In fact, you could argue that the revised digital sign regulations were written specifically for this kind of sign where we have a modest amount of digital signage – static display and a single color, and of course in the case of the gas station, displaying usually the price of gasoline.”

The BAR OK’d the sign without dissent. Board member Pam Dukes recused herself from the discussion and left the chambers until after the vote.

Brick Column

The BAR also reconsidered a move from September’s meeting in which they had required a brick column to be placed at the head of a chain-link fence separating the back lot of The Pointe apartment complex and property at 413 Main St., owned by Elizabeth Boney Kinard.

The issue standing in the way of the column, McLean told the Board, was a large pecan tree.

“We had approved the fence and what we asked her to do at the end of that fence is put a brick column out of the same brick that was done with the apartments,” McLean said. “The fence terminates at the tree, and I think upon further consideration that maybe the brick column itself . . . we might want to rethink the requirements of the fence for the brick column.”

The proposed brick column, McLean said, that would ideally have been placed where the tree stands, would now have to be placed out in front of the tree, away from the end of the fence.

“It looks like to me that it (the brick column) is going to look out of place,” McLean said, “and I think it just makes a bad situation worse.”

The Board voted to accept the fence as it is, without requiring the brick column.

“It sure looks awful,” Board member Cindy Nord said, looking over a photograph of the site, “if it looks like that in real life.”

Criss said part of the landscaping plan for The Pointe would entail vegetation to grow on and through the fence over the next “three to five years and nicely hide it,” he said.

Technical Advisor

The BAR unanimously approved Ralph Walden as the Board’s Technical Advisor. Although the position is an unpaid one, the Board contemplated changing that in the future.

“Mr. Walden has agreed to do it basically at this point for free,” McLean said, “but I do think at some point in time that some appropriate compensation should be considered.”

Town Administrator Gary Parker said that if the Board was going to consider paying Walden for the post, the proposal should be made to Town Council before Council begins budget discussions in May.

McLean asked Parker if he would research what other BARs in other towns pay their technical advisors so Blythewood’s BAR could use those pay scales as a model for their own.

“Actually, what my research has revealed is that there are no technical advisors (in other towns),” Parker answered, “so we’d have to come up with our own formula.”

An hourly rate, Parker suggested, would be the most reasonable option.

Election of Officers

Finally, the BAR elected new officers for the 2017 session. Dukes, nominated by McLean, was unanimously tapped for Chairwoman. McLean, nominated by Dukes, was voted in as vice chairman.

 

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