XENIA — Supporters of the Alan Besco Car & Truck Superstore packed the Xenia City Council meeting Thursday in support of Annie the Eagle.
Annie, the 25-foot inflatable, was grounded earlier this month after the board of zoning appeals denied a variance request. The city’s land development code allows for a maximum of 12-foot inflatables. The decision caused a firestorm on social media and throughout the city which is why nearly 50 people — most wearing save Annie T-shirts — filled the council chambers.
Among the few who spoke was co-owner Melanie Atley, who with sister, Stacy Sparks, made the request for the variance to keep Annie flying.
“We’be been in business for 37 years,” she said. “We’ve been flying an inflatable for 20 years. Twenty years. Never had a problem. We feel like we don’t know what’s happened. All we ask is to fly the eagle 10 days a month. I don’t feel like we’re asking for much. We’re carrying on our father’s legacy from 37 years ago.”
Atley added that the BZA suggested they fly a smaller sign on each of the parcels that make up the lot, which would be eight individual signs along West Main Street.
“That’s not going to look right,” she said.
Tammy Price told council the zoning ordinance should be changed.
”We have felt that she has never caused any kind of safety to our community,” Price said. “She is beautiful and she flies proudly. We’re asking for 10 days a month. There are a lot worse aesthetics in our city.”
Eddie Rousseau said Annie, and Dorothy the Dinosaur before that, were simply used as beacons to attract people to the lot during sales.
“It brings people into our town,” he said. “It gives business to our restaurants. We bring a lot of business to the town. The dinosaur, whose gone, and the eagle, whose been chosen, was simply a beacon for more than anything else to let people know we are doing our sale. This is where we’re at.”
During council discussion, council member Dale Louderback said there are options for Atley and Sparks, including filing an appeal in court, or asking to have the land rezoned — which would ultimately be council’s decision.
“If the rezoning board denies it again, it comes directly to council,” he said. “I can only speak for myself, I’d be more than glad to vote yes for it. It would take three other votes. I think you have some people up here that are level headed. And I think you have a chance of passing it. I’m just sorry that its come to this.”
“There can be some compromise,” he added.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.