Visual Environment Board Minutes 01-19-05
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson


Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Present:        Doug Wehrle, chair; Valerie Leis, Kevin McManus, Ross Weale, Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber, and Trustee Liaison Leo Wiegman.

Absent:         Marianne Bosshart and Planning Board Liaison Ted Brumleve.

The VEB considered three sign applications before sitting down with logo designer Elton Robinson to review refinements to the selected logo design.  Village Engineer Dan O’Connor joined the meeting for discussion of the logo.


1. Friends Bar Restaurant
Attending the meeting on behalf of Friends Bar Restaurant were two proprietors of the business and a representative of Sign Extreme.  The new restaurant will occupy the space vacated by Mark’s of Grand Street at 140 Grand Street.  As submitted, the proposed sign would use the existing green awning, with the name “Mark’s” and a rectangular section of green background eradicated through the sign maker’s art.  The words “Friends Bar Restaurant Corp.” and a phone number would be added in green letters against this light-colored space.  The restaurant’s name would be spelled in letters 9.5 inches high, while the phone number and “Corp.” would be 4.5 inches high.
VEB Discussion:
a.      VEB Chair Doug Wehrle opened the discussion by noting that, while the existing awning sign is permissible under code, the proposed alteration is lacking both in terms of quality and aesthetics given its location in the Upper Village.  The representative from Sign Extreme explained that the approach being taken was intended to minimize the cost of the project.
b.      Acknowledging that this was a valid concern, Board members made a number of suggestions aimed at eliminating some of the clutter on the sign and improving its appearance and legibility.  These include removing the work “Corp.” and the phone number, and perhaps eradicating the words “of Grand Street” as well.  This would help lend the new business its own identity and provide space to “stretch out” the lettering of the restaurant’s name.
c.      Board member Valerie Leis suggested using a font with a less-pronounced serif to make the sign easier to read.
VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board approved the sign as re-conceived during the course of the discussion.  The new sign will retain the restaurant’s address (“140”) in its existing form (white lettering against a green background), but a larger rectangular area of green will be eradicated in the center of the sign to make room for the name “Friends Bar Restaurant.”  Those sections of green remaining on the borders of the sign will be used to “frame” the new name.

2. RD Flooring
A representative of Signs Ink attended the meeting on behalf of RD Flooring, 2A Maple Street.  The shop will occupy the new retail space created in the Capriccio I strip mall by subdividing the cleaners next door.  The proposed sign consists of navy blue translucent lettering mounted on the plexiglass surface of an illuminated light box measuring 12 feet long by 2 feet high.  The words “RD Flooring” appear in large letters beginning on the left side of the sign, with “Carpet,” “Tile,” and “Linoleum” appearing below.  The remaining one quarter of the sign to the right includes the phone number and words “Residential” and “Commercial” in white lettering on a navy blue background.
VEB Discussion:
a.      Board members agreed that the sign’s designer had done a good job of presenting a significant amount of information in a limited area.
b.      VEB member Ross Weale noted a slight discrepancy in the horizontal spacing of the sign:  the “R” in “RD” was further from the left edge of the sign than the last digit of the phone number was from the right side.  The representative of Signs Ink agreed that the spacing should be even.
VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board approved the sign with the adjustment in spacing.


3.  Pilates, Etc.
Tyler Blaire of Pilates, Etc. and the sign fabricator from Signs Extreme presented the proposed signage for her new business at 4 Croton Point Avenue, just east of the entrance to the Croton-Harmon station parking lot.  Their proposal calls for erecting two signs that differ only in their dimensions.  Both would be oval with the words “Pilates, etc.” appearing in script silver leaf against a purple background; the words “A mind and body spa” would appear in purple lettering against silver leaf immediately below.  The left side of the oval would feature a logo bearing a stylized female form in gold leaf and beige, while the street number (“4”) would appear in beige at the top of the sign.
The sign mounted on the eastern end of the front of the building would be three feet at its highest point and five feet wide, with the letters in “Pilates, etc.” measuring 8.75 inches in height.  The second sign, to be mounted high on the building’s west side, would be 8 feet wide and 4 feet high, with the business’s name appearing in 13-inch high letters.  Both signs would be illuminated by gooseneck lamps.
VEB Discussion:
a.      Doug Wehrle called attention to the fact that a young dogwood tree is growing directly in front of the sign on the front façade and will obscure it in spring and summer.  Ms. Blaire acknowledged this and said they plan to move it, perhaps to the corner of the building.  She also expressed a desire to do additional low plantings, including flowers, to make the front of the building attractive.
b.      Doug also noted the presence of a rusted “no parking” sign leaning over in front of the building, and commented on the excessive number of unattractive, poorly maintained signs in that area.
c.      Considerable discussion centered on the fact that the front of the building contains an irregular succession of “shapes,” from the rectangular windows to the west, to the doorway, a round window, and now the proposed oval sign.  There was some discussion as to how the entrance might be made more prominent—perhaps through a mounted “sculpture” or other attention-getting technique.
d.      Since the vast majority of patrons enter the building from the parking lot to the rear, there was some question as to how to mark that door in a more prominent way, especially given existing restrictions on the amount of existing signage.
VEB Recommendations
a.      The Board approved the two signs as presented.
b.      Members encouraged the applicants to explore alternatives for an additional “logo-style” sign marking the entry from the parking lot to the rear as well as exploring the possibility of placing a similar marker at the front door.  They further suggested that the design of these door markers might consist of the female figure that appears on the approved Pilates sign, but without any words.  The oval would be rotated 90 degrees, to become more vertical in orientation.  These signs will demarcate the entrances, add a design element that includes color, and create a degree of visual unity that reflects the single use within.  It was agreed that the business owner would work with Joe Sperber to explore the code requirements necessary to include these elements; the plan could then be submitted to the Zoning Board of Appeals with the VEB’s endorsement.  (In this context, VEB members agreed that their upcoming review of the current sign ordinance will likely recommend changes that allow pedestrian-friendly, identifying logo types—for example, the shape of a boot hanging near the front door of a shoemaker’s shop—in addition to the establishment’s primary sign.)
c.      Members also recommended that the applicants approach the Village about removing the decrepit “no parking” sign from Croton Point Avenue in front of the building.
d.      The Board also noted the general importance of improving the appearance of this area, which constitutes one of the most heavily-traveled entryways to Croton.

4.  Discussion of Village Logo
Designer Elton Robinson attended the meeting to show the VEB his refinements to the “C” logo design specified as the favorite during the December work session with the Village Trustees.  VEB members expressed enthusiasm for the design, which has been simplified while at the same time adding a train motif suggested at the December session.  Plans call for making a formal presentation to the Trustees and the public at the February 15th Board meeting; Elton will also design supplement on the new logo for insertion in the Village newsletter for March.


The Meeting adjourned at 9:50 p.m.