Commissioners deny gigantic racino sign

The proposed sign would stand 199 feet and 6 inches tall, nearly four times that of the nearby mammoth Jesus statue in front of Solid Rock Church on Interstate 75, said Michael Yetter, Warren County Zoning Supervisor and Stan Williams, executive director of the Warren County Regional Planning Commission. The sign would contain a 300-square-foot LED display and a 300-square-foot name plate and logo on both the north and south facing sides.

Miami Valley Gaming and Racing, LLC, a joint venture of Delaware North Companies Gaming and Entertainment and Churchill Downs Inc., is in the process of purchasing 120 acres of land near the intersection of Ohio 63 and Union Road — approximately 1/4 of a mile from Interstate 75 — in Turtlecreek Twp. for a racino, or combination horse track and video slot casino, from the state of Ohio.

Warren County ordinances allow for signs of 20 feet high and 150 square feet in size, although the planning commission or commissioners can make allowances.

The largest sign in the county is the 84 foot tall sign at the entrance to the Kings Island amusement park, which is 500 square feet per side, Yetter said.

“The height of their requested sign just isn’t palatable,” said Commissioner Pat South.

“If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s big signs,” said Commissioner Dave Young. “I feel it degrades the overall value of the community. If we approve one sign of this size, it will open the door for more of the same.”

The commissioners said they sympathized with the desire of the racino to be noticed from the highway but they felt the proposed sign would be too large and tacky.

“They could buy a vacant lot or empty gas station on the highway and put up a sign there,” Young suggested.

The city of Monroe had also written a formal complaint against the sign, Yetter said. Even though the racino and sign are not within Monroe’s jurisdiction, city officials felt it would conflict with the aesthetic created by Monroe’s own signage laws, which prohibit signs greater than 100 feet tall and 225 square feet in size.

The sign will be presented as part of the entire racino plan to the Warren County Regional Planning Commission on Thursday.

“I think they were going for the moon with what they proposed,” Yetter said. “I think they have another sign to propose.”

No representatives from Miami Valley Gaming and Racing were present at Tuesday’s meeting.

“Miami Valley Gaming & Racing continues to work with local officials on a number of aspects of this significant development, including signage. We will continue to work in the spirit of being a good neighbor as we move forward with this world-class gaming and racing facility,” said Ron Sultemeier, director of new property planning and projects with Delaware North Companies Gaming and Entertainment.

Miami Valley Gaming and Racing is in the process of purchasing the horse racing licenses used at the Lebanon Raceway from Miami Valley Gaming and Racing LLC and the Lebanon Trotting Club LLC for a reported $60 million. Plans call for construction of the racino to begin late this year with a targeted opening date of early 2014.

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