Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Eatery battles city hall over sign

Wants one higher than bylaw permits

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The owner of Corydon Avenue restaurant Mona Lisa Ristorante is fighting city hall's opposition to his plans to erect a giant digital sign promoting the business.

Joe Grande wants to erect two state-of-the-art, digital signs on a free-standing pole towering seven metres above the ground. The size of the signs would be a combined 2.1 metres by 2.4 metres.

But city staff turned down the proposal, arguing the type of digital sign and its height violate new sign regulations in the city's zoning bylaw.

"The signs will reflect the ambiance of the restaurant and are in keeping with other similar signs, that are even taller, in the vicinity," said lawyer John Prystanski, a former city councillor who represented Grande at a special meeting of the civic appeals committee Thursday.

The Mona Lisa appeal was one of two on the appeal committee's agenda dealing with digital signs; the other is from an applicant operating a pawn shop on Sargent Avenue.

Grande wants the appeal committee to overrule the planning staff's refusal to allow the sign to be erected.

A civic report to the committee states the restaurant falls within a C1 commercial district zone, which restricts the height of free-standing digital signs to 2.4 metres, and the type of digital sign is restricted to those that display text only, known as a digital reader board, using light-emitting diodes.

The Mona Lisa sign is the type known as a digital static copy, which can project images similar to those seen on giant sport scoreboards.

The civic report said the city has agreed to give Grande variances from zoning regulations, which require setbacks from the front and side yards. The Mona Lisa sign would be erected on a pole on the west corner of the building, right on the property line, without any setbacks.

The civic report states the restaurant is located in a neighbourhood consisting of mixed residential and commercial uses, with the expectation commercial signs would be shorter.

The report states while there are taller free-standing signs in the area, they existed before the new regulations came into effect in April and over time they would also be reduced in height as replacements are erected.

Prystanski said businesses across the street could legally erect a digital sign on a six-metre pole, adding other businesses in the neighbourhood have free-standing signs that are 7.6 metres in height.

Prystanski said the sign will not be used to promote any other business.

He said the sign has to be seven metres in height in order to clear the top of the restaurant building so it can be clearly seen by pedestrians and motorists along both sides of the roadway.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 13, 2013 A7

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