GOSHEN — The ongoing construction of a new Starbucks on the city’s south side took another step forward Tuesday during a meeting of the Goshen Plan Commission.

At the meeting, commission members voted unanimously to approve a petition by Starbucks Coffee Company, Hilton Displays and Goshen Retail LLC for a Planned Unit Development minor change to allow illuminated wall signs on the south building facade and the building facade facing Lincolnway East, where illuminated wall signs are not permitted adjacent to residential use/zoning.

The subject property is generally located at 1763 Lincolnway East, Suite 2, zoned Commercial B-3PUD, part of the Keystone Square PUD.

“The Keystone Square PUD, established June 1, 1999, by Ordinance 3896, did not specifically address signs, except to state they followed B-4 District requirements,” Rhonda Yoder, planning and zoning administrator for the city, said in introducing the petition Tuesday. “A PUD minor change approved by the Plan Commission on July 17, 2007, established specific requirements for freestanding signs, but did not address other types of signs, so signs other than freestanding continue to follow zoning ordinance requirements for B-4 District signs. Per Zoning Ordinance Section 5100.2.C, wall signs adjacent to residential land use/zoning may not be illuminated, internally or externally, which in this case applies to the south building wall and the building wall facing Lincolnway East.”

According to Yoder, the submitted petition requested approval for three internally illuminated wall signs, two on the wall facing Lincolnway East and one on the south wall.

“Other than the illumination, the wall signs meet zoning ordinance requirements,” Yoder added of the request. “As an alternative to internal illumination, staff suggests external illumination installed directly above the wall sign location on each building wall, to illuminate the wall signs only, installed to shine down onto the signs, and shielded so the light source is not visible.”

Asked why she recommended external rather than internal lighting, Yoder indicated she felt the external lighting would be less disruptive to the nearby residential neighbors than internally-illuminated signs.

LIGHTING COMPROMISE

Mary Hohmann, a representative of Hilton Displays speaking on behalf of Starbucks, noted internally-lighted signs are the traditional, on-brand way the company typically lights its signs, and urged the commission to approve the petition with the internal lighting request intact.

“Starbucks would like you to please consider allowing them to have internal illumination on all the wall signs,” Hohmann said of the request. “The height of their business hours are in dark hours, which in this region is about seven months out of the year, and that is for breakfast/morning customers coming in to get their coffee. And they do believe that internal illumination is more efficient as far as energy is concerned. We could also put those lights on a timer so that they are shut off during non-business hours as to not affect the residents surrounding this particular location.”

Asked what the hours for the new business would likely be, Hohmann said standard Starbucks hours are from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., though she noted hours for the new Goshen store have not yet been set, and could potentially vary from that standard.

As for how intense the store’s internally-lighted signs typically are, Hohmann said the standard for most Starbucks locations is to use a very bright, 6,500 kilowatt blue LED light for signs, which she admitted could be a bit intense for nearby residents.

As a compromise, Hohmann suggested the Goshen store could utilize a less intense, yellow LED light for its internally-lighted signs which would accommodate a power drop to as little as 3,500 kilowatts, while still maintaining the brand’s traditional look.

The commission’s members agreed, and a vote was passed unanimously to allow the signs to be lighted internally with a power at or below 3,500 kilowatts. In addition, the approval required that all signs be turned off during non-business hours, and also allowed Starbucks the option of converting the signs to external lighting should the less intense internal lighting prove unsatisfactory for the Goshen location.

As for when the new Starbucks is expected to open to the public, Hohmann indicated that the opening will likely take place sometime in late winter of this year or early spring of next year.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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