HARTVILLE  Village Council upheld the Oct. 3 recommendation by the board of zoning appeals to grant a sign variance for the Pet Valu building at 881 W. Maple Street, in the Giant Eagle shopping center, but not without some discussion.

BZA Chairman Morris Dingman said the company requested a 67.21 square foot sign for the building, arguing that it would provide better exposure to traffic on West Maple Street.

The village zoning code, Dingman said, allows for just more than 32 square feet of signage on a building the size of the Pet Valu store, which has 64-feet-8-inches of frontage. He added that BZA members also told the Pet Valu company representatives that the larger sign would likely provide little in the way of a visual advantage, given the store's location in the plaza, far off West Maple.

The BZA voted 3-0 in favor of allowing a variance of 47.33 square feet for the sign, 46 percent over the allowed size in the code. Pet Valu representatives agreed with the decision and council voted 5-1 in favor.

Councilwoman Bev Green, however, voted no, stating that she needed more information on how much signage space Pet Valu was being granted on the plaza marquee sign, which lists all businesses in the plaza. 

Councilman Jim Sullivan pointed out that the only sign at issue at this time was the building sign.

Wrangling with construction traffic regulation

Council passed the first reading of an ordinance providing rules and procedures for the issuance of permits for traffic control during construction. The ordinance would allow the village, not the construction contractor, to be in control traffic patterns during construction and village police officers to conduct traffic control. 

Sullivan asked if the village would be liable for any injuries sustained by officers in this duty. Fiscal Officer Scott Varney said while it is likely the village would be the responsible party, he has been in contact with Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation officials, who are looking into the matter. 

Village Engineer Rob Graham also noted that enforcing the ordinance on Ohio Department of Transportation projects could be difficult, as ODOT has "hundreds of pages" of its own traffic maintenance plan. 

Solicitor Ron Starkey allowed that Graham may be correct, but the ordinance could still be helpful.

"I suspect (ODOT) may not be easy to work with," Starkey said. "But without the ordinance we have no say and with it we do have some say."

Railroad crossing project kicks off

After months of negotiations, Graham reported that the planned Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad rail crossing project on East Maple Street will finally begin this month.

Graham said the project is scheduled to begin Oct. 24, with expected one-week to 10-day detours on North Prospect and State Route 619. A pre-construction meeting has yet to be scheduled, Graham said, at which time such details will be discussed further.    

"We are getting close to the end of the year, but hopefully we can get it in," Graham said.

Friends of the Library honored

In her report to council, Mayor Cynthia Billings declared the week of Oct. 16 through 22 Lake Township Friends of the Library Week and encouraged residents of the village and township to support the Library.