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Variance criteria not met in inflatable eagle case


XENIA — The variance request made by the owners of the Alan Besco dealership failed to meet most of the criteria considered by the board of zoning appeals, ultimately leading to its denial.

Sisters Stacy Sparks and Melanie Atley sought the variance to continue to display a 25-foot tall inflatable eagle, as well as a pair of 20-foot tall “dancer” signs on its property along West Main Street 120 days a year. The business had displayed some sort of inflatable for years but that practice became nonconforming when the city in mid-2016 adopted its land development code, which allowed 12-foot tall displays for 60 days.

After several meetings with the city ended without resolution, the sisters applied for the variance. A motion to approve the variance failed 3-2, and then a motion to deny passed 4-0. In case of a tie, the mayor casts the deciding vote.

The staff report indicates that of the nine approval criteria, one was not applicable and just one was satisfied — whether the variance would adversely affect the delivery of governmental services such as water, sewer, electric, refuse pickup, or other vital services.

Among other things considered by the BZA are the staff report and testimony from the applicants and the general public. According to the report, denial was recommended based on lack of satisfied criteria.

According to City Planner Brian Forschner, the BZA is also advised to document its decision with “findings of fact” that explain in objective terms why the variance was approved or denied to ensure that the decision was made fairly and objectively based on evidence and consistency with case law.

“The BZA based its decision, like it is required to do with all of its decisions, upon findings of fact, not based on personal feelings or opinions,” Forschner said in an email. “The staff report demonstrated that the business violated the code despite advanced warnings from the city, and that the variance request failed to meet the land development code’s variance review criteria.

File photo This inflatable eagle is no longer allowed to be flown at the Alan Besco auto dealership.
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2019/10/web1_Eagle.jpgFile photo This inflatable eagle is no longer allowed to be flown at the Alan Besco auto dealership.

By Scott Halasz

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Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.