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12/18/2012 9:28:00 AM
Hazelhurst board denies sign request
Adult store owner wanted larger sign; changed application after initial approval from the town board
Brian Jopek
of The Lakeland Times

The Hazelhurst town board has denied a request from Mark Syring, the owner of Darling’s Gifts in Hazelhurst, to allow a larger sign along U.S. Highway 51 in front of his business.  

The town board had on Nov. 7 approved a sign permit application from Syring that featured a 2-foot by 8-foot message board. That approval included a variance for height.

The town’s ordinance allows a height of 10 feet. The town board’s variance granted Nov. 7 would have allowed Syring’s sign to be 15 feet high. 

At its Dec. 4 meeting, the Hazelhurst Plan Commission took up another application from Syring, who wanted to have a sign that had a larger, 4-foot by 8-foot message board.

The committee, after some discussion, made the determination the new application didn’t meet the town’s ordinance limit on sign size and voted to deny Syring’s application, though the committee didn’t have a problem with the change from orange and black for the sign to yellow, pink and blue. 

The item was once again on the agenda for last week’s Hazelhurst town board meeting. 

Syring wasn’t at the meeting but, like the Dec. 4 plan committee meeting, he was represented by Rick Hendrickson of Lone Wolf Signs in Tomahawk.

Town chairman Ted Cushing said he was going to tell Hendrickson and his fellow board members how he felt.

“We made an exception,” he said.

“You don’t have to tell me, I know,” Hendrickson said.

Cushing continued:

“We made that exception and one of the reasons we did it ... number one because you were going to have to move back and part of the sign would be behind the building and southbound traffic would be cut off from seeing part of the sign,” he said. “So, we made an exception for the height.”

He explained later Syring was being forced by Oneida County to move his sign back because it was in the highway right of way. 

At the meeting, Cushing said the second reason the town board went along with the original application was because it had a message board that measured 2 feet by 8 feet. 

“The way I felt about it, we were cooperating with each other,” he said. “You, with the smaller message board, to get your height.”

Now, Cushing said, Syring wanted a larger message board and the sign to be higher. 

“I’m not going to tell you how I’d vote right now but I’m not too pleased,” he said.

“Well, I told him [Syring] he had to give something if he expected to get something,” Hendrickson said. “So, I managed to get him to calm the colors down on the sign, to get the oranges and the blacks off of there and make it light blue and pink so it wasn’t so gaudy.”

Hendrickson said the only reason Syring wanted the reader, or electronic,  board was because he saw one up the road at another business. 

“It’s the same thing they’re putting up,” he said.

Hendrickson said he had a suggestion for the board. 

“You have nothing in your ordinance that says anything about colors on electronic message centers,” he said. “What he wanted to do was put one of these out there, full color, like a TV screen.”

Hendrickson said he told Syring he doubted that would pass and that he should stick with a monochrome board.

“You should put that in the wording of your ordinance,” he told Cushing.

“We follow the same wording that’s in the county ordinance,” Cushing replied.

Hendrickson said the reader board he’s looking at for Syring isn’t the full 4 feet by 8 feet but is actually 3 feet, 7 inches by 7 feet, 10 inches. 

“His reasoning on this is that he’d like to get three lines of copy on there,” he said. 

Plan committee member John Kocovsky was asked by Cushing for his input. 

“We just didn’t think it would conform to the ordinance, flat out,” he said. 

“If you added the sign and the message board, you’re at 70 square feet of sign.”

“The ordinance needs to be tweaked in terms of the language and you’ve submitted something you thought might help,” Cushing said to Hendrickson. “Our intention when we added the reader board was that a person could have a 4-foot by 8-foot sign and a 4-foot by 8-foot reader board.”

After more discussion, Cushing told Hendrickson that if Syring wants to go back to original colors, which Cushing said he didn’t have a problem with, and go with a 2-foot by 8-foot reader board, in his opinion he could still have the height variance. 

“That’s the only way I would vote yes on this,” he said. 

Board member Harland Lee made a motion to deny the new application and to stay with the original town board decision from Nov. 7, with the exception of changing the colors if Syring wanted to do that. The motion passed.

“So, he can put his sign up, he can change the colors, but he can only go with the two by eight reader board?” Hendrickson, who wanted to be clear on what was just approved, asked.

“If he wants the 15-foot height,” Cushing said.

Following the vote, Hendrickson got up to leave and wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

“Well, I’ll tell you right now that I’m going to go sit on this guy and I’m going to tell him ‘Let’s get on with life,’” he said. 

“If he chooses to go in a different direction, then that means he’s going to get his lawyer involved and all that good stuff,” Cushing said.

“Well, that’s when I exit, I can tell you that,” Hendrickson said. “That’s getting ridiculous.”

Brian Jopek may be reached at bjopek@lakelandtimes.com.

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