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Visual Environment Board Minutes 10-15-03
Advisory Board on the Visual Environment
Village of Croton-on-Hudson

Minutes:        VEB Meeting of Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Present:        Doug Wehrle, chair; Valerie Leis, Ross Weale, Kevin McManus, Building Dept. Liaison Joe Sperber.
Absent:         Marianne Bosshart; Trustee Liaison Leo Weigman

The October meeting of the VEB got underway shortly after 8:00 p.m.  It included consideration of two signs for commercial establishments followed by discussion of several other topics by board members.

1. Zeytinia
John Lorenzo of the White Plains Sign Group appeared before the Board to describe proposed signage for the Zeytinia Gourmet Market, which is slated to occupy retail space at 51 Maple Street in the Van Wyck Shopping Center owned by Mark Giordano.  The Board reviewed a number of supporting documents, including a computer image depicting the proposed placement of the sign, an amended site development plan including an elevation of the façade following a proposed renovation, color samples, and a printout of the sign showing revised fonts selected earlier that day.
As presented, the sign would be 2 feet high and run for 24 feet along the approximately 30-foot long storefront.  The word “Zeytinia” would consist of 24-inch individual, flush-mounted, illuminated channel letters in the Algerian font.  The words “Gourmet Market” would be stacked to the right of the store name; they would consist of 10-inch, individual flush-mounted, three-quarter inch flat cut-out letters in the Gill Sans font.  The channel letters would be made from acrylic, while the non-illuminated flat cut out letters would be fabricated from a material known as “Komacel” board.
The revised fonts are intended to develop a distinctive typeface and “look” for the business and will match signage for a store being planned in Connecticut.  At the suggestion of the Planning Board, Mr. Lorenzo also presented an alternative layout consisting of just the two words, “Zeytinia Market,” which is described below.
Discussion by the VEB focused on several points:
a.      The computer image depicting the placement of the proposed sign did not accurately reflect the storefront as it will exist following the proposed construction (as shown in the amended site plan).  According to the computer image, the first two letters of the new sign would be mounted over the entrance to CVS next door.
b.      The computer image shows a downspout whose location would interfere with the necessary relocation of the sign to the right.
c.      VEB members expressed reservations about the light green color of the proposed sign.
d.      Members expressed particular concern about the sign’s size, especially given the likelihood that another sign will be erected at some point over the now-vacant storefront located immediately adjacent to it, at the former CVS location.
e.      Regarding the alternative wording (“Zeytinia Market”) and layout of the sign, which Mr. Lorenzo said he had prepared at the suggestion of the Planning Board, the VEB expressed its preference that the stacking of “Gourmet Market” be retained as originally proposed.  The smaller letters required by this stacking reflects the subordinate, descriptive nature of these words in characterizing the type of business—a role reinforced by the inclusion of the adjective “Gourmet.”  In contrast, the alternative “Zeytinia Market”—with the word “Market” spelled out in letters 15 inches high as opposed to 10 inches in the stacked version—seems to present the word “Market” is part of the store’s name.  Plus, the two-word “Zeytinia Market” alternative would run two feet longer than the original “stacked” version, adding to the VEB’s concerns about the size of the sign.
VEB Recommendations
a.      The VEB strongly recommends that the sign be reduced slightly in size and repositioned over the storefront in such a way that (a) it does not extend over the CVS entrance; (b) there is sufficient space between it and any future sign to be mounted over the now-vacant storefront; and (c) the sign will relate in a coherent way to the fenestration and entrance to the store when proposed construction is completed.  Namely, the Board suggests that the word “Zeytinia” be centered over the four large glass panes that make up the storefront window, with the letter “Z” positioned more or less over the vertical divider between the two panes to the left, and the “A” positioned in a similar manner over the vertical divider between the two panes to the right.  The stacked words “Gourmet Market” would shift to the left—retaining their same spatial relation to the word “Zeytinia” as in the original proposal—in such a way that the terminal letters of these words line up with the center of the new entrance to be constructed.
b.      The Board estimates that the revised sign would be some 22 feet long, and the larger letters spelling “Zeytinia” would scale down proportionately, to an estimated 22 inches.  The “stacked letters” would be approximately 8¾ inches high; Mr. Lorenzo indicated that White Plains Sign Group could fabricate letters of this size in-house.
c.      The downspout that would interfere with the sign should be moved to an interior location.
d.      The green color of the sign should be the darker of the two alternatives presented (#2030).
e.      The revised signage should be re-presented to the VEB for further review and recommendation.
f.      In subsequent discussion following Mr. Lorenzo’s departure, the VEB considered the possibility that Zeytinia might also plan to mount some form of window signage.  As noted in the Village sign ordinance, Section O, the combination of permanent and temporary signage applied to or placed within two feet of the interior of the interior of any given window considered part of the signage regulated through the ordinance, and the VEB would welcome the opportunity to review it as part of the store’s overall application.

2.  Sarina’s Hair Salon
Joe Tucci of Sarina’s Hair Salon, located on Old Post Road in the Upper Village, returned to the VEB to update members on the status of his proposed sign.  He is planning a sign with a steel surface featuring a “pierced design,” with the words “Senses Salon” cut out (one over the other) in the center.  He supplied a sample of the green plastic material that would be visible through these cut-out letters.  There would be a total of six “hieroglyphics”—three on either side of the words “Senses Salon”—to represent the five senses plus the controlling brain.  Mr. Tucci is now working with a lighting consultant on strategies for backlighting the sign.  He anticipates using a rear-mounted light box that would project approximately 6 inches from the storefront.
Regarding next steps, the VEB recommended:
a.      that Mr. Tucci continue working with the lighting consultant to refine strategies for illuminating the sign, with particular emphasis on making the exposed sides of the lightbox as unobtrusive as possible—through choice of material, color, etc.;
b.      that he submit a completed application for the sign in time for consideration at the November VEB meeting.

3.  Croton Medical Building
The Board briefly reviewed plans for the possible construction of a new retaining wall behind the Croton Medical Center at Riverside Avenue and Grand Street.  It would replace the existing railroad tie wall and perhaps allow for the creation of several additional parking spaces to the rear of the building.  The VEB noted that the project is still very much in flux, in part due to economic considerations.

4.  RFP for New Village Logo
Doug Wehrle reported that Village Manager Richard Herbek had received the draft RFP written by Mairanne Bosshart with input from VEB members and asked the Board to suggest any designers or firms to be included in the call for submissions.  VEB members suggested several names, and Kevin McManus will compile them and any others received via email in coming days for submission to the Village.

5. Frame Shop
Valerie Leis reported that she stopped in at the new frame shop located in the strip mall on Route 129 (the site of the former Sterling coin shop) and found them unaware of the requirement that the VEB should review the sign they plan to install.

6.  VEB “Slide Show”
The final business of the evening concerned Ross Weale’s proposal that the VEB put together a 10 to 15 minute slide show presenting positive examples of Croton’s visual and civic environment—including businesses, public spaces, and areas of natural beauty.  He volunteered to compile a collection of images for review by the Board with the possible goal of running them on the Village’s TV channel.

The meeting adjourned at 10:20 p.m.