All applications for a sign variance shall be made directly to the Planning Commission upon forms as prescribed by the Commission.  The Planning Commission shall have the power to make recommendations to Council for sign variances from the provisions and requirements of this subchapter which will not be contrary to the public interest or the intent and purpose of this subchapter, but only where, owning to special conditions pertaining to a specific piece of property, the strict application of provisions to requirements of this subchapter would cause undue or unnecessary hardship.  No such variance shall be recommended by the Planning Commission unless the Planning Commission, after holding a public hearing on the application, determines that the following conditions have been met.
   (A)   The granting of the variance is in accord with the general purpose of this subchapter.
   (B)   The granting of the variance is not injurious to the area or otherwise detrimental to the public welfare.
   (C)   There exist special circumstances or conditions, fully described in the findings, applicable to the property for which the variance is sought, which do not apply generally to the property in the Downtown Historical District, and which, if the provisions of this subchapter were strictly applied, would deprive the owner of the reasonable use of such property.
   (D)   The granting of the variances necessary for the reasonable use of the property.
   (E)   Proof of hardship created by the strict application of this subchapter is presented by the owner.  The proof must show:
      (1)   The hardship results from the application of this subchapter.
      (2)   The hardship is not self-created.
      (3)   The hardship is unique to the property in question.
      (4)   The owner cannot reasonably use the property if the terms of this subchapter are strictly applied.  Showing that a greater profit would result if the provisions of this subchapter were not strictly applied does not prove hardship under the terms of this subchapter.  Showing that the owner bought the property in question without knowledge of the restrictions imposed by this subchapter does not prove hardship under the terms of this subchapter.
   (B)   All recommendations of the Planning Commission shall be presented to Council.  Council shall act only on the recommendation as it comes from the Planning Commission.  A failure by Council to act on a recommendation of the Planning Commission under this section within 60 days of the presentment of the recommendation to Council shall constitute an affirmance of the recommendation of the Planning Commission granting or denying the variance.
(Ord. 22-94, passed 3-14-94)