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Mentor BZA Votes Down 2 Sign Requests From Local Businesses

The board decided against granting variances for Best Gyros and ClearSight Eye Care

The Mentor Board of Zoning Appeals voted to not approve a pair of sign variances for new businesses during a meeting Tuesday at .

The two businesses are a restaurant, Best Gyros at 7413 Mentor Ave., and an optometrist's office, ClearSight Eye Care at 7640 Mentor Ave.

Best Gyros had asked to have a 30-square-foot wall sign facing Mentor Avenue in addition to a 30-square-foot freestanding sign and 120-square-foot wall sign.

However, the city code says the business should only have a total of 150 square feet worth of signs.

Brad Petro, of Cicogna Electric & Sign Co., represented Best Gyros at the meeting. He said the business wanted to have signs facing Mentor Avenue so drivers would know about the new restaurant.

The city's Assistant Law Director Joe Szeman said drivers going east on Mentor Avenue would already see Best Gyros' signs.

"If you can't see those signs, you probably shouldn't be driving because of your vision," Szeman said.

He added that, in lieu of another wall sign, the business could temporarily put a sign up in its window.

The BZA voted unanimously against allowing the additional wall sign. Instead, they encouraged Best Gyros to use a temporary wall sign.

Nancy Donovan Farina, the BZA's vice chairman, said she didn't want Best Gyros to misconstrue their vote as an indication that they're not happy to have the business in Mentor or that they don't want it to succeed.

"We're happy you're bringing you're business here," she said. "We welcome you. We do."

ClearSight Eye Care's request

At the same meeting, a variance request for ClearSight Eye Care failed despite getting a majority of BZA voters to approve it.

The new optometrist's office wanted to have a 44-square-foot freestanding sign with a 2-foot setback, while the city code says the sign should be no bigger than 40 feet and have a 15-foot setback.

Mentor Planning Administrator Ric Spence was concerned that a sign that large and close to the street could make it difficult to see oncoming cars from the parking lot. He said that drivers might be forced to pull into the sidewalk to see the traffic.

Petro -- who, coincidentally, also represented the optometrist's office -- said he didn't think there would be line-of-sight problems. They offered to move the sign so it was about 45 feet away from the office's driveway.

Spence said that he would prefer to have a line-of-sight study done so the city's traffic engineer could review it.

The BZA could have stipulated the applicants get a line-of-sight study. Instead, they decided to vote on the sign variance without a stipulation.

Richard Zaleski, Glenn McKinney and Farina approved the variance. Lisa Marinelli and Curtis Lau voted against it. Brian Wollet recused himself from the vote because he sometimes works with the applicants. BZA Chairman Charles Pinkerman was not at the meeting.

Even though the BZA voted 3-2 for the variance, it failed because variances need at least four votes to be approved.

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