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Sign Review Board says no to seven extra signs for FM 620 development

Thursday, September 17, 2009 by Austin Monitor

A massive planned retail development near Lake Travis hit a snag Monday at the Sign Review Board meeting when the panel denied a request to increase the number of allowed signs from three to ten.


Hank Smith of Texas Engineering Solutions spoke before the board on behalf of his client, P&S Investments, a development team that is planning a sprawling development called The Trails at 620a mix of retail, restaurants, outdoor trails and a pond on 75 acres of land at the corner of FM 620 and Wilson Parke Avenue. The developers, Leslie Perry and Rodney Speaks of P&S Investments I LLC, requested a variance for additional signs along FM 620.


Smith said the extra signs are necessary because the entire property is actually three massive lots, with nearly 3,400 feet of frontage on FM 620 and only one sign allotted for each lot. With four driveway entrances planned along the highway, the developers wanted eight signs for that stretch, as well as two additional signs facing Wilson Parke Road. The reason, according to Smith, was to make it safer for motorists trying to find the entrance they need.


The signs, which are about 12 feet tall, will be landscaped, rising from stone facade basesas opposed to raised, billboard-style signs. The extra eight signs are crucial, Smith said, because the land slopes down and away from FM 620, making the various storefronts impossible to see from the roadway.


Carol Torgrimson, Vice President of Transportation for 2222 CONA (Coalition of Neighborhood Associations), was on hand to oppose the variance request. Lee said the proper way to make the development safer, since it would be generating a large amount of traffic, was to put in fewer driveways rather than more signs. Torgrimson also pointed out that other nearby developments, such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot, do not require as many signs as Speaks and the other developers were requesting.


Citing these other retail developments as examples, board member Michael von Ohlen ultimately did not think P&S Investments I had shown sufficient hardship to need a variance for extra signs and he made a motion to deny the application.


“I’m very familiar with this area and I think you can do it without this many signs,” he said.


Although the application for extra signs was denied, P&S Investments could still achieve their goal by subdividing the three large parcels into ten, each with an allowance for one sign. Smith said the ruling will likely not change the site plan and the developers would most likely seek to subdivide the parcels, although they are planning to meet again with neighborhood groups, including 2222 CONA, about the plan.

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