(A)   Definition. A sign variance is a mechanism, which allows an individual to install a sign on his or her property in a way that is otherwise prohibited by the City’s Sign Regulations. Typically, a sign variance is sought by an individual wishing to waive one or more dimensional standards/general requirements such as size and height limitations, placement in reference to the building and/or street, or type of sign allowed in a particular zoning district due to unique signs or unusual conditions.
   (B)   Purpose. Due to the strict nature of the Sign Regulations regulating signs in agricultural, conservation, residential, neighborhood commercial and office professional zoning districts and allowing a maximum size sign of 50 square feet or less, there may be instances where the requirements of the Sign Regulations would result in a significant hardship or would not permit the owner to effectively advertise its business or service. By applying to the Board of Adjustment (BOA) for a sign variance, a relief mechanism is provided to grant exceptions to the Sign Regulations. However, in no instance may the BOA grant a variance to allow a sign to exceed 50% of the maximum area and height allowed in a particular zone.
   (C)   Review Criteria. In assessing the appropriateness of a sign variance application, the BOA shall take into consideration the benefit to the applicant if the variance is granted, as weighed against any resulting detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood. In so doing, the following findings must be found:
      (1)   The variance is in harmony with the general purposes and intent of the Madisonville Sign Regulations;
      (2)   The applicant has established a hardship is created by exceptional or extraordinary conditions applying to the property that do not apply generally to adjacent and/or nearby properties and such conditions are a result of lot size or shape or topography over which the applicant or owner has no control. A mere loss of an advantage, convenience to the applicant or economic reasons alone do not constitute a hardship;
      (3)   The variance will not adversely impact the visual image of the area, will not be detrimental or offensive to reasonable property owners in the vicinity, or adversely impact or be inconsistent or incompatible with the character of the adjoining properties and/or neighborhoods;
      (4)   The variance will not adversely affect pedestrian and/or vehicular traffic or safety.
   (D)   Application Procedure.
      (1)   An application for a sign variance, including supporting materials and a site plan, must be submitted to the Madisonville Zoning Administrator who will then schedule a public hearing before the BOA to consider the request. At least 7 days prior to the public hearing, a legal notice shall be placed in the local newspaper, and the adjoining property owners shall be notified by regular mail of the public hearing.
      (2)   In deciding on the sign variance request, the BOA may approve, approve with modifications or disapprove the variance. In addition, the BOA may impose such other terms and conditions as it deems necessary to minimize any adverse impact on the neighborhood or community.
      (3)   The applicant, or a representative of the applicant, is strongly encouraged to attend the hearing in order to address concerns and to respond to any questions raised by the BOA.
   (E)   Materials to be Submitted.
      (1)   A completed sign variance application;
      (2)   A site plan showing the following:
         (a)   Location of all existing and proposed signs on the lot or building, (building signs include awning, projecting, roof, suspended and window signs);
         (b)   Location of all existing buildings, driveways/access roads, parking areas and adjoining street right-of-way;
         (c)   Setback distances from the proposed signs to the property lines and to any existing buildings and/or signs on the lot.
      (3)   Dimensions of all existing and proposed signs including ground clearance and overall height from grade to bottom of sign. Attach photographs or sign renderings of proposed signs. Building wall size must be provided if proposed sign is to be located on the building;
      (4)   Provide a copy of the deed of the property in question and any site surveys or plats; and
      (5)   Application fee.
(Ord. 2011-16, passed 11-21-11)