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Middletown to decide if Waffle House should be a taller-than-allowed sign for restaurant

In May, the BZA voted 3-2 for a variance to erect a 50-foot sign at its proposed location on South Dixie Highway just south of Ohio 122. Because of the requirement of four votes to enact a variance, the request was denied. Two members of the seven-member board, David Kash and Fred Gibson, were absent from the May 1 meeting.

In its new request submitted on May 8, Waffle House representatives are applying for a zoning variance for a 48-foot sign. The Middletown Development Code only permits monument signs up to 10 feet tall.

Representatives from Waffle House and the property owner of a lot located at 3451 Dixie Highway will make another pitch to the Middletown Board of Zoning Appeals on June 5 for a 48-foot sign for a proposed restaurant. They are seeking a variance for better visibility from Interstate 75. Last month, the BZA voted 3-2 to approve the request, but did not have the four affirmative votes for the variance and two members were absent. ED RICHTER/FILE
Photo: Staff Writer

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Restaurant officials say they need a tall sign because of the topography around the site in order to attract traffic around the Interstate 75/Ohio 122 interchange, which is critical for the success of the restaurant.

In their previous application, Waffle House representatives said the taller sign was needed as the location was just less than a mile from the interchange, and the rising height of Roosevelt Boulevard (Ohio 122).

There are already other freestanding signs taller than 10 feet for restaurants around the interchange and Towne Mall Galleria area, which is near the proposed location, such as for Frisch’s restaurant near the intersection of Roosevelt Boulevard and Dixie Highway.

Company officials also said there were no other viable opportunities for Waffle House to build closer to I-75.

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In May, Ashley Combs, city planning director, recommended approval of the variance. Combs told the Journal-News she would make the same recommendation for this latest request.

Board members Dan Ward and Todd Moore voted against the request, citing it was beyond the spirit and intent of the new city development code and did not want to set a precedent if a taller sign was approved. Both members did not believe there was a hardship as the visibility issue could be solved with blue motorist information signs on I-75.

Waffle House had a location at the I-75/Ohio 122 interchange before the property was acquired by the Ohio Department of Transportation for interchange improvements more than a decade ago.

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