2018-09-06 / Front Page

Glen Arbor’s new sign to go dark

By Amy Hubbell
Of The Enterprise staff


IRONICALLY, IT was the sign opposed by township residents, that informed them of a special township meeting on the subject last week. The sign has since been turned off, pending the findings of a special committee. IRONICALLY, IT was the sign opposed by township residents, that informed them of a special township meeting on the subject last week. The sign has since been turned off, pending the findings of a special committee. The sign that has caused an uproar in Glen Arbor has been turned off pending the assembly of a township subcommittee to examine the issue.

The Glen Arbor Township Board voted 5-0 last Thursday to turn off the sign, which has been the talk of the community since its switch was flipped in late July.

Residents turned out in full force at the board’s Aug. 21 regular monthly meeting seeking removal of the sign, which they said doesn’t fit the character of the community. They provided a 120-signature petition backed by residents who “disapprove” of the sign and question its design, size and cost to the community.

Concern didn’t appear to have waned much by last Thursday, when more than 30 turned out for a special meeting. Officials had to move the gathering from the township office in the Township Hall to the gymnasium.


JEFF HAMILTON took the floor at the Glen Arbor Township meeting urging the board to reconsider its purchase of a new sign. JEFF HAMILTON took the floor at the Glen Arbor Township meeting urging the board to reconsider its purchase of a new sign. The sign was the only topic on the agenda. It has two parts: an electronic portion that is 3 feet high and 8 feet in length and a decorative part that varies from 2 1/2 to 3 feet in height.

The board had the sign made earlier this year at a cost $26,000 — a move second-guessed by township trustee Don Lewis, who offered an apology to the community.

“I’m aware of the situation and I would not vote to do it again,” he said. “I apologize.”

Audience members continued to pound the board, including some who said they fear setting a precedent for similar signs in the community.

“Balance is difficult, but the sign will change the character of the community,” Jeff Hamilton said from the audience. “All you have to do is look at Gatlinburg, Tenn. It’s an abomination.”

Residents said the sign is “significantly larger” than what’s allowed in the township Zoning Ordinance, and the illumination is not supposed to be seen off the property.

However, township zoning administrator Tim Cypher, who was not at the meeting, said the sign is allowed through Article 10 of the Zoning Ordinance. That provision states, “Any and all institutions … public lands, grounds or area now under the ownership or control of federal, state, or local governmental authority including the Township of Glen Arbor shall so remain and shall not be regulated by this ordinance.”

In other words, the township is exempt from regulation.

The news didn’t sit well with the audience.

“I feel keeping the sign will encourage others to do the same,” said Cookie Thatcher, owner of Bay Lavender Trading Company. “What’s keeping me from lighting up my whole building with LED lights?”

One person in the audience supported the new sign.

Business owner and Glen Arbor Chamber of Commerce member Patricia Widmayer said the new sign is needed to inform residents and visitors about goings-on in the community.

“I’m the chairman of the Holiday Marketplace and the Pumpkin Fest and we need a digital sign,” she said. “The old sign is very difficult to use. It takes a couple of hours in bad weather to figure out if there are enough letters to say what you need to on both sides.”

The two-sided sign with a yellow background is manual and when not in use is stored in a utility shed owned by the township.

Other options are available and should be explored, according to those in attendance.

Former township Zoning Board of Appeals member Dan Semple offered another option.

In a statement read by his wife, Jan, Semple proposed that the township oversee and develop two to three informational kiosks in the new township park, in the Glen Arbor Garden and at the township office.

Semple encouraged the township to seek input from the Glen Arbor Art Center for input and seek cooperation from the Chamber of Commerce in maintaining and updating kiosk information.

“I’m sure the other ideas could be incorporated into the kiosk idea and involvement of others would be beneficial,” he wrote.

Board members voted 5-0 to have supervisor Peter Van Nort assemble a subcommittee with representatives from the GAAC and Chamber as well as residents.

In the meantime, the board voted to turn off the sign on Saturday pending the findings of the subcommittee.

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Reaffirms what we all knew

Reaffirms what we all knew all along: When it comes to elected officials, etc: "Do as we say, not as we do"