Mequon Plan Commission grants waivers for River Club signs

Opponents fear move sets precedent for other businesses

June 27, 2012

Mequon - The Mequon Planning Commission voted Monday to waive certain restrictions of the city sign code, allowing the River Club of Mequon to build two free-standing illuminated signs on the corner of Highland and Fieldwood roads and the corner of Freistadt Road and Ville Du Parc Drive, as well as a directional sign at the corner of Fieldwood Road and Ville Du Parc Drive. The River Club is the former Mequon Country Club.

Residents near the proposed sign sites addressed the Planning Commission before the decision, 12 in opposition - a trio of whom unfurled a large paper banner meant to convey the size of the proposed signs and a smaller one meant to represent the city's standard directional signs - and five in favor of the signs.

Those who spoke out against the signs called them eyesores inappropri ate for a residential area, potentially distracting for drivers, and a potential detriment to their property values. They warned the commission that if the River Club signs were approved, other businesses could seek similar waivers to build signs of their own.

"I would encourage the commission to think about the precedent this could set," said resident Jim Button, who lives near the proposed Highland and Fieldwood sign site.

Supporters of the signs said they are necessary to guide people to the River Club, that the signs are attractive and less obtrusive than nearby subdivision signs, and that the River Club's well-being and therefore their property values are somewhat dependent on the signs.

"I think (the signs are) actually going to increase our property values," resident Matt Peoplis said.

Signs need lighting

In response to the complaints by neighbors near the sign proposed at Highland and Fieldwood, Mike Kinsella, sales consultant for Poblocki Sign Company, told the Planning Commission that the sign needs to be illuminated.

"Having a non-lit sign there with some sort of reflective vinyl wouldn't do what the River Club would need it to do," Kinsella said. "It was designed this way to be subtly and elegantly done."

Several conditions

The Planning Commission ultimately approved the waivers, subject to several conditions. The River Club must propose an exact location for its direction sign at Fieldwood and Ville Du Parc before it can be approved; conditions agreed upon after meetings between residents near the proposed Highland and Fieldwood sign and project team members must be fulfilled; the address of the River Club must be removed from the signs; the hours of illumination will be subject to review and modification a year after the signs are installed; and the direction sign will need to be changed to include an arrow or other indication of the direction of the River Club, subject to approval by city staff.

The waivers passed on a 4-2 vote, with Aldermen Dan Abendroth and John Mason dissenting.


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