Open for Business?

This is the kind of stuff that really annoys me. From this week’s Around the Bend:

The West Bend Plan Commission reviewed the redevelopment plan for 1610 W. Washington Street, formerly home to Pizza Hut. A representative for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins was called before the Plan Commission to answer questions about parking, signage, and traffic.

[…]

Mario – What you’re seeing with this building is new for Dunkin and new for Baskin. This is a national brand that wants to make some identification, so you have the big slogan “America runs on Dunkin” or “West Bend runs on Dunkin.” The other slogan is a catchy phrase – in the past we’ve had situations where the facades become open and blank and the criticism is can you do something to break it up.

We break up the building with materials we see, and we are open – if it’s concerning, we don’t want too much going on but we do want something.

Sara Fleischman – I agree need to break it up but I won’t support the slogans. I won’t give my vote if slogan stays on the side.

[…]

Plan Commission member Chris Schmidt – I agree with Sara – not to add slogans on signs of buildings.

I get that the folks on the Plan Commission are doing their job by looking at plans and making sure that everything is kosher, but come on.

For a little bit of background, Washington Street (HWY 33) through West Bend isn’t some pristine real estate. It has its fair share of old strip malls, gas stations, older houses, empty lots, etc. It looks like any other street in almost any town in America. The property that Dunkin is wanting to replace is an old Pizza Hut that’s been empty and degrading for years. Like several old properties on that street, it’s just a dumpy old abandoned property with grass growing in the driveway.

So when a national chain comes in and wants to replace that dilapidated eye sore with a brand new establishment, I’d prefer that our city representatives say “thank you” and “how may we help you?” Sure, make sure the plans are safe and not a 40-story strip club or anything, but let them build the building they want. It’s their money and they want to spend it in West Bend. Who the hell cares if they have their slogan on the sign? It’s not the job of the Plan Commission to micromanage the aesthetics of every property in the city.

12 Responses to Open for Business?

  1. 9606 says:

    There are plenty of West Bends all across our country.
    Why doesn’t DD/BR say all that directly to the commission?
    There is not enough “resistance” by the other side, in many aspects of our daily lives.

  2. dad29 says:

    This is the same happy-clappy Female Frippery pushed onto Brookfield by the now-departed (thank God) Mayor-ette Bloomberg.  Agreed, grotesque or completely out-of-balance buildings (and uses) should be denied.

    But signage?

    A stranger should find the building…….how?  Slowing to a crawl on Hy. 33 and staring?

     

  3. Mark Hoefert says:

    The regular signage itself is within code and not in dispute.  The elevations show signs on the front & one sidewall that are visible to the street. As I recall, there may also be some type of curb signage.

    What is questionable is that city code does not allow for slogans in addition to the regular signage that is part of a franchise’s identity.  The proposal is to put the slogans on the sidewalls towards the back of the building.  On the one hand, the representative makes the point that the large blank facades can generate complaints that they are not visually appealing. On the other hand, the city has codes that do not allow for slogans being put on the building facades.  That is what will drive the actions of the city commission – in the case of the first Kwik Trip, they granted them a variance in the size and height of their sign, because there were unique site conditions that justified it being done.  Neighbors were concerned about the amount of light being generated by the Kwik Trip – Kwik Trip voluntarily reduced the amount of lighting on that side of the building.  So, there can be a give-and-take in the approval process as more complicated sites come up for development. In this case there may not be a compelling reason to have the slogans.

    What needs to happen is a review of the necessity of having that in the codes and perhaps some guidance on how to incorporate slogans on facades in today’s modern business climate.  Perhaps West Bend needs to have more viable businesses on West Washington Street and less vacant, run-down properties and less concern about achieving the “right look” of new businesses.

    The plans can be found here:  http://www.washingtoncountyinsider.com/new-franchises-expected-to-open-in-former-pizza-hut-location-on-hwy-33-in-west-bend-2/

  4. MjM says:

    So, McDonalds, 1/4 mile up the road, can have a sign with slogan (and changing ad marquee), Farm&Fleet can leave piles of crap laying all around their site, but Dunkin can’t put up a few words which nobody is going to see unless they are actually pulling in for some Joe an Do?

    Btw, Mz Fleischman seems nice.

  5. Kevin Scheunemann says:

    Mjm,

    McD’s gets special privileges in nearly every town.

    Their lawyers are bigger, more expensive.

    There is the law for McD’s and then everyone else….who will end up with inferior competing signage.

    There is a little town called Belgium that was especially egregious on giving McD’s special signage while subjecting everyone else, with lessor lawyers, or no lawyers, to the sign ordinance.

    Sign ordinances are for suckers without a huge legal team.

  6. Mark Hoefert says:

    McDonalds has “Billions and Billions Served” as part of it’s main sign with their trademark logo.

    No separate signs with slogans, as shown at the link that I posted above.

    Lots of businesses in West Bend have street signs with changing ad marquees. That seems to be within code. There was a recent update to allow for LEDs.

    As I said, perhaps the code that says no slogan signs needs to be revisited.

  7. Kevin Scheunemann says:

    Mark,

    This boilerplate SEWRPC sign ordinace that all these communities adopted IS the problem.   It is complex nonsense that grants special rights to some, curtailing rights for others.   I gutted a lot of it in Kewaskum when it was presented.   Some of it still lingers in Kewaskum, but as Chairman of Planning Commission in Kewaskum, I tend to interpret any abstract as to what it means in favor of development,unless there is a very legitimate safety argument.

    This is not really fault of current West Bend administration, but the fault of previous administrations using the boilerplate regulatory nonsense as the starting point.   Admittedly, even I could not get Kewaskum to look away from the obnoixious boilerplate.   Editing that boilerplate for property rights is like trying to edit the Democrat Party platform to use logic…near impossible task.   I fixed the egregious parts.

  8. MjM says:

    @MarkH…

    My point was to show the absurdity of said ordinance as explained, and if it exists, since which none of us know the exact verbiage of it.

    And to highlight Mz Fleischman’s childish foot stomping.

    If the the ordinance is a ‘ban on slogans’, then Mcds is NOT in compliance. If the ban is ‘additional slogans on the building’, I can understand if it was enacted to prevent lighted advert signage from being placed all over the building, backs and sides included, dumping additional light pollution everywhere. But it appears the proposed DD slogan is non-electric.

    But even so, the fact that WB allows for additional signage other than the main road sign, as well as brightly lit drive-thru signage *on the sides and backs* of the building’s outline, the fact that Farm&Fleet is allowed additional signage in the form of trailers and mowers and pallets of bagged dirt/mulch/salt and whatever else set anywhere on the property, including 10’ off the road, and that Walgreens has lit signage on the side of it’s building, just makes Mz. Fleischman’s toddler tantrum even more ridiculous.

    I agree with you the ordinance needs ‘revisiting’. And so does the placement of Mz Fleischman on the commission.

    @Kevin…
    Follow the money. Always.

  9. jjf says:

    Fun fact:  At age 16, I was a board member of SEWRPC.

  10. Kevin Scheunemann says:

    jjf,

    I don’t doubt.  The liberal anti-private property rights ideology from SEWRPC is constantly evident.

  11. Mark Hoefert says:

    And I profess to not knowing the codes verbatim, have just seen a few discussions like this. An issue I would have is when Commissioners kind of say “I won’t approve …..”.  They should be citing interpretations of the code as back up to their denial or approval of an exception, not making it sound like it is their personal choice.

    Speaking of past administrations, I remember a council meeting where a significant amount of time was expended going back and forth on what species of trees to plant in the parking lot where Walmart is – I think it was a TIF district, thus that kind of minute oversight.  I also remember hearing, “we don’t want West Bend looking like WI Dells” when discussing developments and signage.

    I agree that Fleet has looked like crap for a long time – I think they were running the clock on getting away with it for as long as they could. Area residents would have gone ballistic if the City had forced their local Fleet to shut down, and Fleet was sitting on their new site for at least 10 years without signaling their intentions. When the original Fleet was built, it was in the Town of West Bend and not subject to City codes.  So with annexation the City kind of inherited that mess. But it certainly benefitted the City to have expanded to the West.

  12. jjf says:

    Sounds like the bike shed effect.

    Sorry, Kev, I was contributing data to help plan the placement of stop lights.

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