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September 20, 2016 - 10:05pm

City planning committee takes one bite out of Main St. Pizza's front window pie

main_st_pizza_1.jpg

While acknowledging the artistic value of a five-panel window mural on the storefront of the Main St. Pizza Company at 206 E. Main St., the Batavia Planning & Development Committee nevertheless ruled on Tuesday night that business owner Vic Marchese will have to remove the one that depicts two young ladies simultaneously taking a bite out of a large pie.

The planners granted a special sign permit that allows Marchese to keep four of the perforated vinyl window coverings despite the fact that the total area of the signs is more than the maximum allowable amount of 25 percent of the window space.

The other renditions show a woman enjoying a plate of spaghetti (which covers two windows), a display of pizzas and a pizza chef flipping dough into the air.

Marchese requested the permit last month, but action was tabled after the board decided to seek an interpretation from the City Zoning Board of Appeals as to whether the coverings constituted a window sign as defined by the Batavia Municipal Code and whether the total coverage area should be based on the percentage of coverage for the individual window pane or all window surfaces combined.

The ZBA ruled that this form of window treatment clearly meets the BMC definition of a window sign, and that the maximum amount of window coverage allowed refers to the individual space in which the sign is located and not all window surfaces combined.

Additionally, the Genesee County Planning Board recommended approval of the special sign permit as long as the 25 percent maximum area standard was met, providing for the transparency needed to "enhance the pedestrian experience."

Planning Board Member Ed Flynn, before making the motion to grant the permit, said he was of the opinion that all of the space at the front of the building should be considered when figuring the percentage.

"I am thinking that it should be 25 percent of the entire frontage," Flynn said. "That's my interpretation."

Flynn, Robert Knipe, Matthew Gray and Chairman Duane Preston agreed that the window murals were "attractive," but stressed that they needed to adhere to the city code.

"I agree that it's not unattractive, and I commend the job you have done with the place, but for us it's a compliance issue," Knipe said in addressing Marchese.

For his part, Marchese pointed out that several other Batavia businesses, citing Batavia Optical, Burger King and Ziebart as examples, have large window signs.

"How can the optical place get away with it?" Marchese asked.

Preston countered his claim, however, stating that those places put up posters, which are meant to be temporary.

Planners, as well as Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall, suggested to Marchese that he should remove the advertising component of the signs or eliminate two of the coverings.

In the end, Flynn's motion asked that only one of the panels be removed, and the special sign permit was approved by a 4-0 vote.

Following City Manager Jason Molino's lead, the board did not tie its decision to the maximum allowable percentage of available space requirement, but said it would be looking at these situations on a "case by case basis."

Going forward, Randall said that the board would have to treat every business owner making a similar request in the same fashion. 

After the meeting, Marchese said he would remove the panel (Randall noted that it shouldn't have been put up before the permit was issued) but wondered aloud about his rights.

"It's one panel; I'm not going to miss it," he said. "But is it like a First Amendment thing, too? The city makes things so difficult. It's a lot easier to work with the town (of Batavia)."

Continuing, he said he understood that the city has rules, but didn't understand "what the big deal is."

"It's because somebody complained about it," he surmised.

In other action, the board approved a pair of signs that will be placed on the exterior walls of United Memorial Healthy Living at 164 Washington Ave., and two signs for the exterior of Carter's Restaurant & Bar at 60 Main St.

Brenda Ranney
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"I agree that it's not unattractive, and I commend the job you have done with the place, but for us it's a compliance issue," Knipe said in addressing Marchese.

Pity my city can't run with this "compliance issue" when it comes to the zombie houses on my street. Yeah I know apples & oranges ... smh.

Bob Price
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So I'm guessing that when businesses paint their windows for the holidays or a sale are violating city ordinance? I guess the city would rather have big windows on Main Street covered w/ black plastic....

carol grasso
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are you kidding me!!! We finally get a nice place to eat and good food and you you cant amend a law to keep the signs up? Guess you all like the black trash bag look better. How about taking care of the creepy people who have moved in the city that don't work and hang out and steel cars and break into houses and steel hard working peoples money?

John Roach
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Joined: May 29 2008 - 5:22am

Carol, what do you suggest we do with the "creepy people"?

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