City Council denies zoning appeals

VANDALIA — The Vandalia City Council denied a pair of zoning appeals during its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night.

The first, which would have allowed a U-Haul rental facility at the Airport Inn and Parking on Corporate Center Drive. The second appeal, also denied, regarded a portable sign at Your Dream Boutique on National Road.

The full video of the meeting can be watched in two parts:

The U-Haul was found to be in violation of Code which does not permit “more than one principal permitted use on any zoning lot except where multi-tenant development is expressly permitted.” Vandalia City Planner Amber Holloway, who serves as the city’s Zoning Administrator, determined that the combination of a hotel/motel and U-Haul rental facility do not qualify under the definition of a multi-tenant and, as such, the U-Haul rental facility is not permitted.

The owner of the U-Haul business, Zafar Qazi, said in a letter to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) that he believed the U-Haul operation is allowed under the Zoning Code.

“We started this operation to utilize our spare land to have a first U-Haul business in our City of Vandalia to serve the community and also benefit us too,” he wrote.

Debbie Fain, owner of the building at 115 E. National Road, and Angela Kirby, owner of Your Dream Boutique, asked the Council to reconsider its sign regulations.

“I would like Council to possibly take another look at the Code restrictions on portable signs,” said Fain.

She noted that sandwich board signs are permitted in the Downtown Business District and said the sign in question is more attractive that what is allowed.

“The sign that Angela has put up is a nice, very professional feather flag type sign,” Fain said. I think (Council) should send the message that we have a small business that is trying to advertise its products, and maybe that’s a little more appealing than a sandwich sign.”

She also argued that the City’s Zoning Code leaves room for interpretation on what is or isn’t defined as a portable sign.

“I think the code is a little grey on what is the definition of what is a portable sign,” said Fain. “A sandwich sign is something you can collapse and take inside your building just like the feather flag.”

Councilman Dave Lewis, who voted to deny the appeal, agreed with the applicant.

“I think the applicant has a valid point,” said Lewis. “A flag, particularly in this instance, is more aesthetically pleasing in some respects than a sandwich board. Unfortunately, our Code simply doesn’t allow it.”

He said that while Council has a responsibility to enforce the Code as written, he suggested that the Council and City staff should review that provision of the Code.

Vice Mayor Candice Farst agreed.

“We want you there, we want you to stay there,” said Farst. “It does not fall within our Code, somewhere along the line the sandwich board got in there. We want to promote small business, and this has inspired us to put time and effort in that direction. We will continue to work toward something that will help you out.”

In other action, the Vandalia City Council:

  • Approved an agreement with Montgomery County to provide for building inspection services on an as needed basis at a price of $40 per inspection.
  • Created a separate accounting fund for the establishment of a Fire Equipment Fund. The fund will be used for receipt and dispersal of money used to purchase fire equipment.
  • Waived the formal bidding process and authorized the purchase of of landscaping materials for the Dixie Drive Phase 3 median project to A. Brown and Sons Nursery of Phillipsburg, OH. The purchase is at a cost of $12,090.
  • Appointed three members of the newly established Local Board of Tax Review mandated by House Bill 5 to make municipal income tax uniform across the state of Ohio. The appointees are Jacqie Nawroth, Becky White, and Barb Klosterman. Frank Keish, Jr. will serve as an alternate.
  • Approved three ordinances in their first reading pertaining to the City’s “pick-up” of the statutorily required contribution to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System (OPERS) for full-time employees and elected officials.
  • Passed an ordinance in its first reading to revise appropriations for 2015 totalling $360,700 divided over eight funds. The largest change was the City’s general fund in the amount of $301,000.

By Darrell Wacker


Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.