Local Opinion Editorials

BILLBOARDS, WHO DECIDES?

Sign—-SIGN—-EVERYWHERE a sign blocking out the scenery—-breaking my mind—-Do this, Don’t do that—-Can’t you read the sign?

1970-by Five Man Electrical Band

 

Driving through Waynedale on Lower Huntington Road, you may have noticed a new billboard above the Raindrop Shoppe at 2511 Lower Huntington Road. If you continue east, and turn left on Bluffton Road, there is another new billboard at 6110 Bluffton Road, on the land owned by Hobart Sales & Service-Glosson Food Equipment. The billboard is adjacent to the Waynedale Foot Clinic.

Who put up these billboards and changed the skyline of Historic Waynedale? Who decides what is legal and what is not legal?

I drove over to the Raindrop Shoppe and talked to the owner. She explained that she had leased the 6′ X 6′ parcel of land to a company out of Indianapolis. They put up the sign after signing a 1-year lease agreement.

Next, I called Dr. Dennis Chubinski who owns Waynedale Foot Clinic. The Bluffton Road billboard is very close to his practice. I asked him his thoughts about the new sign. He said, “I tried to purchase the property where the new billboard is. The city told me I could not build there because it was an AEP right-of way. They would not allow a permanent structure at that location. My other concern is, who is responsible for the information on the billboard. What if they want to advertise, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas? Who has final say on the content of these messages?”

Next, I called the Indianapolis number on the billboard. Jeff Lee answered the phone. He explained that he owns the company that owns the billboards. He explained that the billboards are 10′ X 30′, that his business is located in Indianapolis, and that he has several other billboards in Fort Wayne.

I asked about the AEP right-of-way for that piece of property on Bluffton Road. He told me that they were allowed to build there because the sign was considered a temporary structure. When I asked about who controls the content of the messages on the billboards, he explained that he was solely responsible for what is displayed. He also told me that he was leasing the two properties from The Raindrop Shoppe and Glosson Food Equipment, but he did not want to divulge how much he was paying.

Jeff Lee assured me that he had gotten all the permits necessary to erect the billboards and that because he was in compliance with the zoning in the area he did not need a public hearing for a variance from Board of Zoning/Land Use Management.

I called the BZA Department at 427-1129 and asked about the permits for the two pieces of property with the new billboards and how they determine what is temporary and what is a permanent structure. The lady in zoning told me to call The Allen County Building Department at 449-7131.

Del answered the phone and I asked her to check on the building sign permit for 6110 Bluffton Road. Del said she could not find any permit for that address, but to call back later and talk to Dave Fuller, Allen County Building Commissioner.

After lunch I called Dave and left a message on his machine. He got back to me within a half an hour. He explained that according to his records the people who put up the signs did not have all the permits. He said they did not have a construction license for the City of Fort Wayne and that he would look into the issue. When I asked him what the rules were for determining the difference between a temporary and a permanent structure he said, “Generally a temporary structure will not have a permanent foundation and it would not be up for more than a year.”

I know from past experiences with the Building Department and the Board of Zoning that the people in these departments are the ones that make the decisions as to who can build what on which property. They decipher the codes, and let the permits with the goal of trying to decide what is best for the community and what will move the City and County in a positive direction for the benefit of all the people. They must make decisions every day as to what is best for the citizens as well as balancing their judgment to make sure that the community stays open to business development, which is so vital to the health of a community.

At press time I still do not have all the information on the billboard situation, but I plan to do a follow-up story in the next issue of The Waynedale News.

The Waynedale News Staff
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