Edmond planning official takes stance on requests for variances to city code
EDMOND — Planning Commission Chairman Barry Moore warned franchise owners wanting to do business along Interstate 35 in Edmond that he won't be on their side if they ask for a variance from the city codes.
Moore made his position clear recently when owners of a proposed Taco Bell asked for two variances to allow for a ground sign and metal accent pieces on the front and side of a building on the west side of I-35 and just south of Fox Lake Lane.
“There is no way in hell that you will ever convince me that Taco Bell is going to be at a competitive disadvantage without these variances,” Moore said. “These franchises come out there to have a very, very lucrative location for their businesses.
“They are going to do just fine if they follow the rules and build a building that is required by the I-35 standards.”
The city of Edmond adopted the I-35 standards after a lengthy study about how officials want the area to look to people traveling along the interstate.
Oak Tree Capital LLC, the property owner, has a conflict with those standards because only one ground sign is allowed per land owner.
The property where the Whataburger is located and the two pieces of land to the north where a Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A are planned are owned by one person.
Whataburger was granted a sign by then-owner Jim Tapp. If Taco Bell and Chick-fil-A, which are leasing the property, aren't given a variance to allow for a ground sign, the two newer businesses won't be able to have signs in front of their businesses.
“If they owned the property, they could each have a 25- or 35-foot sign,” said City Planner Bob Schiermeyer.
The second variance requested by Taco Bell was the use of a metal material on the east and north facing of the 2,053-square-foot building.
David Gregory, a Taco Bell engineer from South Lake, Texas, said the building is 100 percent masonry, but on the front and side they are requesting a variance from city code to use metal panels that look like wood grain.
The metal panels will be installed on a purple background with LED lights, Gregory said.
“The lights aren't real bright,” Gregory said. “It gives the building energy. Gives it a little extra pizazz.”
The I-35 standards require buildings to be made of brick, rock, stone or wood, but not metal, Schiermeyer said.
“The building is made out of brick,” said Planning Commissioner Kenneth Wohl. “This a larger sign or a piece of art whatever you want to call it. It is an accent feature.”
Planning Commissioner Mark Hoose agreed.
“The I-35 standards were drafted to have signage standards and standards for landscaping to be more stringent,” Hoose said. “I think you have to look at each individual item. They didn't want a concrete building. This is a brick building with an accent piece.”
Planning commissioners voted 3-2 against allowing the two variances.
Moore and Planning Commissioners Rob Rainey and Bill Moyer voted no. Hoose and Wohl voted yes.
City council members will make a final decision on the variances Sept. 12.
“They come in here and ask for variances every time they put one up,” Moore said. “It is disrespectful to the city, I think. And, they come out there and they act if they don't get these variances they can't do business in Edmond.
“I will be an old man and that Taco Bell will still be sitting out there and they will be just fine,” Moore said.
“So, I am going to vote no every time there is a variance from the I-35 standard. I am going to vote no till hell won't have it. It is absolutely wrong and they do it every time.”