The Village of Waunakee is embarking on an update to its sign ordinance.

At Monday’s plan commission meeting, commissioners discussed two sign proposals, one for Madison and Main Apartments and the other for the Lamphouse apartment complex on Main Street, where retail use will be located on the ground floor.

Commissioner Susan Springman, who also serves as a village trustee, said she would like to see a comprehensive package for the retail signs in advance at the Lamphouse.

Following the discussion, Bryan Kleinmaier, the village’s attorney, and Jason Valerius, planning consultant, noted that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Reed vs. the Town of Gilbert, is prompting municipalities to overhaul their ordinances. The judges ruled that municipal ordinances cannot restrict signs based on their content.

Municipalities do have jurisdiction over temporary signs.

“What’s on that sign isn’t regulated, but the village can have some control over signs without really regulating the content,” Valerius said.

Kleinmaier said for staff, the goal would be to put together a policy that complies with the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

“We might have to do two steps,” Kleinmaier said, first drafting an ordinance that complies with that court decision.

Commissioners generally supported the Lamphouse sign proposal, which included signs over the breezeways, along with a vertical “blade” sign on the side of the building for vehicular traffic.

Dan Yoder of Sign Art Studio noted that the blade sign design was intended to fit the building, adding that often these are quite large. One iteration of the sign showed it at 40 feet tall, larger than the permitted height, and would require a conditional use permit; another showed it at the permitted 20 feet. Yoder asked which the commissioners preferred.

Springman asked about the intensity of the light projected and wondered if it would shine into residents’ bedrooms.

The intent is for the signs to have a “warm, soft glow,” Yoder said, and noted that the discussion reminded him of a Seinfield episode.

Overall, plan commissioners liked the design, but wondered if 30 feet would be more appropriate.

Valerius said the brightness could be limited but cautioned that the sign should not compete with the retail signs.

Commissioner Joe Zitzelsberger agreed that he would like to see the entire sign plan for the building that includes the retail signs.

Plan commissioners were less supportive of the proposal for a Madison and Main Apartments monument sign, and some said the business directory seemed unnecessary as the shop signs already are in place.

“The monument sign is pretty generic,” Commissioner Brad Zeman said. “It needs more eye candy.

“I think they could have done better design-wise,” Springman added.

Springman wondered why the applicant felt a monument sign was necessary at all.

“I think it detracts from the building,” she said. The applicant did not attend the meeting and so was not present to answer questions.

Kleinmaier suggested that village staff present a revised sign ordinance at the July plan commission meeting for consideration. At that time, applicants can resubmit their sign proposals.

Kilkenny West plan proceeds

Also at Monday’s meeting, the commission approved a conditional use permit to exceed the maximum square footage in the Kilkenny West Commercial Development. Festival Foods has proposed building a new grocery store in the development on the west side of Hwy. Q, south of Woodland Drive. It would exceed the village’s policy of limiting retail stores to 50,000 square feet.

The plan commission approved the conditional use permit, along with a specific implementation plan for the development.

Arboretum Village plan reintroduced

The plan commission took no action on a rezone for the Arboretum Village Subdivision, where 132 dwelling units are proposed at the corner of Hogan Road and Quinn Drive, instead scheduling a public hearing until next month due to a mishap in the public notice. That notice was erroneously dated for July.

Plan commissioners did support the plan but cautioned that adequate fencing and easements be in place to buffer the homes from industrial uses at neighboring Octopi Brewing. In addition, the plan should include a sidewalk along both sides of Hogan Road. Homebuyers should also be made aware of the neighboring industrial use, Valerius said.

“I don’t want business park users to feel impeded because of complaints” from the residents, Valerius said.

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