Church gets OK for oversized sign Pastor calls ruling 'really helpful'

September 10, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

A church in southern Anne Arundel has received county permission to build a roadside sign larger and closer to Ritchie Highway than regulations allow.

Friendship Community Baptist appealed last December the county's refusal to let the church have a sign larger than the 32 square feet permitted by county zoning regulations.

This week, the county Board of Appeals ruled that the church may build a 54-square-foot sign and may build it 10 feet closer to nTC the road than is usually allowed.

The Rev. Briton Fletcher, the church's pastor, said the decision is "really helpful. Our church is so far back off the corner that no one would be able to see a regular-sized sign at all. We have a food and clothing pantry and need to announce when we're distributing goods to the community."

The board's Sept. 7 decision concluded that the church, at Route 2 and Jewel Road, would be placed at a disadvantage if held to the standards because it sits more than 160 feet from the highway and is surrounded by thick shrubbery.

"From its on-site inspection," the ruling said, "the board believes that the location of the sign is the only place where it can be located and be visible to the road."

When church officials applied for the zoning exception last fall, .. the administrative hearing officer, Robert C. Wilcox, declined the request, saying, "Your people know where your church is. Why do you need a sign?"

The church argued that the 120-member congregation has operated a community food and clothing bank on the site for five years and needs to identify itself to the public.

The sign was also to include a message board listing special events, which passers-by needed to be able to see from the road, the church said.

The appeals board agreed with the church, observing that the sign must be "large enough to be seen by traffic traveling at 50 mph."

The board is limiting the message area of the sign to 40 of the 54 square feet.

The decision also allows the church to erect its sign two feet higher than the standard six feet.

The church had wanted the sign to be V-shaped but must redesign it so that it is a flat, two-sided unit.

Church officials, unaware of the county's specifications on sign sizes, spent $1,500 having a V-shaped brick sign made before they learned about the regulations last year.

Mr. Fletcher said the church will be able to use at least half of the existing sign in conforming with the requirements.

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