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Wendell board OKs larger store signs, new permit process

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WENDELL — Officials Tuesday approved changes to the town’s ordinances that allow bigger signs outside larger businesses and streamlines the process developers must follow when seeking special permits.

Also at Tuesday’s regular meeting, the Wendell Board of Commissioners granted a permit to a planned downtown bar and nightclub.

The new sign allowance affects any business at a building larger than 25,000 square feet. The change allows up to 10 percent of the front of a building to be covered by a sign and caps signs at 200 square feet.

The previous rules, which are still in effect for buildings less than 25,000 square feet, allowed no more than a 100-square-foot sign.

The town’s planning director, David Bergmark, told commissioners that change will address requests from larger commercial developments coming to the town, particularly in the Wendell Falls area of town.

“What are current ordinances don’t address well is some of these larger commercial developments. We’re starting to get more interest from these,” Bergmark said. “The Wendell Falls Grocery Store is specifically what brought this to the forefront but the SPC Mechanical building could very well have a similar issue. We just don’t have many bigger box stores or we haven’t had any kind of large, new industrial sites that may need ... a higher signage than we currently allow.”

Commissioner David Myrick was absent at Tuesday’s meeting. The other four commissioners unanimously approved the change.

The present commissioners were also unanimous in adopting a new process for granting developers special use permits for new developments. The new process requires the developer to submit a reduced site plan of the development — instead of a complete master plan — when asking the commissioners to approve a special use permit.

A full master plan would still need to be approved by the town’s Technical Review Committee, but only if the commissioners approve the zoning and special use permit. The commissioners would also need to approve the plans a second time if there is a significant change between the reduced plan and the master plan.

Bergmark said this makes it easier on developers because an expensive master plan isn’t needed if the commissioners aren’t going to approve the project in the early stages.

“I think this is a way of getting a plan out in front of us early without the applicant having to invest as much time and money into it,” commissioner Jon Lutz said. “I know those are expensive and this is a chance to either add some critique at that point or ... ensure it’s going to be a good use of their time.”

Commissioners earlier in the meeting granted Westerlund and Schearer Hospitality LLC a special permit to operate a bar in their business on North Main Street. The permit was required because the bar, called Farmers & Merchants, expects the sale of food might make up less than 30 percent of its revenue. Farmers & Merchants will have a full kitchen and plans to offer appetizers and dinner when it opens, and lunch at a later date, according to meeting documents.

State law will require the bar be classified as a “private club” whose customers must be members who pay a nominal annual fee.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners:

• Approved a resolution directing the town clark investigate the annexation of 151 acres off Rolesville Road, Davistown Road and Yancey Drive.

• Heard the towns 2019 audit report from Petway Mills and Pearson PA.

• Appointed Lewis D. Piner to the town’s Tree Board.