Valpo panel rejects McDonald’s request to renovate sign
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent May 21, 2013 10:22PM
Updated: May 22, 2013 11:27AM
VALPARAISO — Finding a new section of the city’s ordinance wasn’t enough to save the McDonald’s sign at 2002 Calumet Ave.
Almost a month after the Board of Zoning Appeals held a quasi-legal trial about whether the sign could remain grandfathered in despite planned improvements, attorney Todd Leeth asked board members to consider another part of the city ordinance.
The board members decided Tuesday against considering 13.304 of the ordinance, entitled “non-conforming signs,” and voted not to allow Restaurant Management Corp., which owns this and 25 other Chicago area McDonald’s, to renovate the sign.
“The proposed work to the sign is not cosmetic and is not maintenance,” board attorney Patrick Lyp read from the motion the board voted to approve.
Leeth protested that although he presented the new information to Lyp a week ago, the board members hadn’t seen what was new evidence.
It states “a non-conforming sign shall be properly maintained,” Leeth said.
Lyp argued that this wasn’t new information Leeth presented and that the board had closed the session for information input, much as it had closed a public hearing on another matter earlier.
Both sides on April 23 had argued whether the city’s Article 5 on the sign ordinance allowed for Restaurant Management Corp. to make the elevated sign safer but remain grandfathered in.
The city now requires “monument” style signs along Calumet, closer to the ground.
In April, Leeth compared a reinforcement collar that the company wanted to put around the sign after taking the sign down to a cast on a broken arm, but board member Elizabeth Lynn compared it to having a permanent cast.
The restaurant company hasn’t decided what it will do next.
“Unfortunately, the city put aesthetics over safety,” he said.
“We’re obviously disappointed,” said Bill Phillips, Restaurant Management Corp. director of facilities.