Appeal against a Fascia Sign refusal

February 8, 2017 / SDAB

On October 27, 2016, I filed an appeal against the refusal to install a fascia sign defined in the land use bylaw as a “Fascia On-premise Sign” for Full Force Fitness. On November 24, I appeared before the Edmonton Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) in a case that ended in favour of my appeal submission. Here is a brief summary of the issues and SDAB decision.

The case

In the summer of 2015, Full Force Fitness submitted an application for a fascia sign. The sign was proposed on a site that comprises of two buildings. The fitness centre occupies part of one of these buildings, approximately 35,000 square feet. The overall building facing east is 118 metres long. The fascia Sign was 2.9 metres high and 9.1 metres wide. The proposed Sign was therefore relatively small compared to the building, and not out of scale. The site and the location of the illuminated Fascia Sign is facing a railway track and the rear of a hotel.

The issues

Two issues were outlined in the original refusal from the Development Authority. One to do with Fascia Sign facing public roadways and not railways, and a second issue with the architectural style of the Sign. Here is a description of each issue.

Adjacency issue: Section 59F.2(1)(a) states “Fascia On-premises Signs shall only face a public roadway other than a Lane. ” The Development Officer determined that the proposed Fascia On-premises Sign faces West across two properties, railway line and the parking lot of a hotel, and does not face a public roadway, contrary to Section 59F.2(1)(a).

Architectural style issue: Section 59.2(6) States: “For all Sign Applications, the Development Officer shall have regard for the scale and architectural character of the building and the land use characteristics of surrounding development. The Development Officer shall refuse any Sign Application that may adversely impact the amenities or character of the Zone. ” The Development Authority considered the size of the Fascia On-premises Sign to be significantly larger so that it could be viewed from Gateway Boulevard across two properties. As such the proposed Fascia On-premises Sign was considered to dominates the rear/west elevation of the building and not to be in scale or have regards to architectural character with the building.
Furthermore, according to the findings of the Development Authority, the large illuminated area of the proposed Fascia On-premises Sign would negatively impact and be a nuisance to the adjacent hotel and their guest rooms, as well as interfere with the use, enjoyment and value of neighbouring properties.

The argument

I disagreed with the assertion of the Development Authority and the perceived impact of the Fascia Sign for the following reasons:

Adjacency issue: The sign is proposed to be located facing the railway tracks. Though this is not a public roadway the railway tracks provide separation between the subject building and adjacent buildings. There is approximately 38m between the subject building and the hotel located across the railway tracks. Though the sign would not face a public roadway the intent of the Bylaw is still being met which is to ensure proper separation exists to eliminate any potential negative impacts.
Additionally, there are other businesses in the area with Fascia signs facing the railway tracks, rather than a roadway, including Gemini Bridal and Capital City Gymnastics Centre which are located on the same property.

Architectural style issue: The subject building is locaed in Strathcona Industrial Park which is characterized by large industrial buildings and Highway Commercial along Gateway Blvd. Adjacent land uses include Industrial Business (IB) and Highway Corridor (CHY). There are a number of large scale Fascia, Freestanding and Third Party Advertising signs already in the area. The proposed sign fits with existing development in the area.
The Development Officer has noted that the Sign dominates the west elevation and is not in character with the building. As noted above the sign is 2.9m high and 9.1m wide and is proposed to be located on a building approximately 118m wide. The sign does not dominate the large façade. As well, the industrial building currently consists of a blank wall and the proposed sign would add some visual interest.
The sign is proposed to be illuminated which is allowed in the Land Use Bylaw under 59F.2(d). We believe that the sign area to be illuminated will not negatively impact the hotel which is located across the railway tracks. The facade of the hotel facing the railway tracks and the sign does not have hotel room windows.

The SDAB decision for the Fascia Sign

It was decided that the appeal for the Fascia Sign would be allowed and the decision of the Development Authority was overturned.
You can see the full decision from the Edmonton SDAB HERE.