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Church gets OK to put up bigger sign

A Wandermere-area megachurch got permission Tuesday to supersize its sign.

But the Turning Point Open Bible Church at 11911 N. Division St. can’t sell french fries like other owners of land zoned for mixed use.

Commissioners unanimously approved the congregation’s request to change its low-density residential zoning to mixed use so the church can have a larger sign.

Instead of a 32-square-foot, 6-foot-high sign, Turning Point now may have a 20-foot-tall sign as large as 150 square feet – the same as numerous businesses on the five-lane highway.

However, commissioners specified that the church property can’t be used for anything else not allowed in the original residential zone.

Turning Point is connected to Division Street by a 600-foot driveway, but the 1 1/2-year-old, 53,388-square-foot church is surrounded on three sides by single-family housing. Neighbors objected that changing the zoning would allow commercial or light industrial uses.

Hearing examiner Michael Dempsey agreed it would be inappropriate to subject the neighborhood to that risk for the sake of a sign, and the church appealed his decision to county commissioners.

Dempsey suggested a variance would be the appropriate solution, but Planning Director John Pederson said Tuesday that regulations wouldn’t allow that.

Pederson said Dempsey also was wrong when he concluded that he lacked authority to grant a zone change with conditions.

Although commissioners discarded most existing “contract rezones” when they adopted new zoning regulations, there was no prohibition on new ones, Pederson said.

Commissioners granted such a conditional change.

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