Goshen BZA 1

Goshen City Hall

GOSHEN — A planned rebranding of the Maple City Chapel on the city’s south side will get to include a large illuminated wall sign following action by the Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday afternoon.

During the meeting, board members approved a request by Maple City Chapel Inc. and Signtech Sign Services Inc. for a use variance to allow placement of an approximately 106-square-foot illuminated wall sign on the north façade of the church, which is located at 2015 Lincolnway East.

According to Rossa Deegan, assistant planning and zoning administrator for the city, churches in Goshen are considered a conditional use, and as such are allowed just one non-illuminated wall sign not exceeding 36-square-feet in area. Should additional or more elaborate signage be desired, a use variance is required, he explained.

“The existing signage for the church includes a non-illuminated wall sign on the north façade of the building and an approximately 156-square-foot freestanding sign that is 23 feet in height and includes and electronic message center. The freestanding sign was approved by variance in 2014 and planning does not have record of approval of the wall sign,” Deegan told the board in introducing the request Tuesday. “As part of a rebranding, the petitioners are proposing to reface the top panel of the freestanding sign and replace the wall sign with an approximately 106-square-foot illuminated wall sign. Because churches are a conditional use permitting one non-illuminated wall sign not exceeding 36-square-feet in area, the proposed wall sign requires approval of a use variance.”

Deegan informed the board that his department was in favor of the request’s approval, noting that the circumstances of the proposed sign are similar to one approved by the BZA back in June of 2020.

That request, he said, involved installation of an approximately 207-square-foot illuminated wall sign for the Vine Church at 2616 Peddler’s Village Road, a similarly-sized building which, like Maple City Chapel, is embedded within a commercial development on a busy commercial corridor.

“Although the request is almost three times the size of what is permitted for churches, the proposed sign matches the characteristic of the area,” Deegan said of the request. “The church is located on a busy commercial corridor, there are no adjacent residential buildings, and if the use of the building was commercial, an illuminated sign of this size would be permitted. Additionally, the size of the sign is reflective of the size of the church, which has a sanctuary with a seating capacity of 600.”

The board’s members agreed with Deegan’s assessment, and the requested use variance was approved unanimously.

OTHER BUSINESS

Board members also approved a request by the board of trustees of Walnut Hill Chapel, 909 N. Sixth St., for a use variance to allow an existing 160-square-foot storage shed with an approximately 25-foot setback from an adjacent residential property to the north and an approximately 33-foot setback from an adjacent residential property to the west to remain on the church property in violation of the city’s zoning ordinance.

According to Deegan, structures located on church land in the city are currently required to have a minimum 50-foot setback from all surrounding residential uses, which is why the requested use variance was needed.

John Kline can be reached at john.kline@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240315. Follow John on Twitter @jkline_TGN.

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