Planning and zoning receives complaint on pet salon sign

Published 10:15 am Thursday, November 3, 2016

Hearings held on nuisance complaints

By Abigail Whitehouse

STANFORD – A complaint has been filed with the local planning and zoning commission against the owner of a pet salon – news that came just a week after hearings were held to address nuisance complaints filed against him and another nearby business owner. 

Owner of Ruff to Pawfect Pet Salon Dillon Roberts and Merle Miracle, owner of Hilltop Florist, were both called before Stanford’s code enforcement team last week in an attempt to resolve two nuisance complaints filed over their illuminated LED signs on Lancaster Street. 

According to Code Enforcement Officer Scott Maples, the hearings were separate and civil, but only one of the business owners was willing to sign an agreement saying they would turn their digital, LED signs off from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. every night. 

It was originally proposed that they both turn their signs off from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. but Roberts and code enforcement members agreed to 9 p.m. Miracle said he wanted his attorney to review the agreement before signing it.  As of Tuesday this week, Miracle said he did not have any intention of signing the agreement. 

Miracle’s illuminated sign was installed about two-and-a-half years ago and he said he believed it to be approved and of no concern – until two months ago when Roberts moved in next door and they began renovating the residence and installed a smaller LED sign. 

Miracle told the planning and zoning commission that he was misled by city officials on the approval process two years ago and he showed up to the Oct. 27 zoning meeting last week because he was told there was now another complaint against his business. 

“We have never had a complaint on your sign,” commissioner Tammy McDaniel told Miracle. “We have a signed complaint for another sign, but not on yours.”

McDaniel reviewed the minutes of a handful of planning and zoning meetings last year, in which Miracle’s sign was mentioned. 

The first time it was brought up was during an April 2015 meeting. The minutes stated “Hilltop Florist sign does not conform to our signage ordinance located in Article IX, Section 3 on page 69 of Stanford Planning and Zoning. Commission discussed that (Scott) Maples needed to talk to the owner regarding the brightness of the sign and the possibility that the brightness be turned down so it would not be a distraction to drivers at night.”

During the commission’s July 2015 meeting, the minutes noted that Maples said he spoke with the Hilltop Florist owner and that Miracle was going to work on getting the sign dimmed. 
“The Hilltop Florist owner will contact the company he purchased the sign from and see if the brightness can be toned down,” the July 30, 2015 minutes state. 

“We talked about it several times. So it’s not sudden, I wanted you to know,” McDaniel told Miracle last Thursday. 

Miracle said he had not been approached by anyone about his sign until about two months ago. 
“This commission has not asked the mayor to speak on our behalf for anything at all,” McDaniel clarified. “If any of the people we have asked to do something have not, I personally apologize. We hope that the businesses that have had complaints – I still haven’t seen a complaint on your business come to us – we just want them to go before the board of adjustments to get the proper variance for the signage.” 

“If you don’t know that and you go to the people you think are going to give you the right information and they don’t, then you’re screwed,” Miracle said. “I went to a city official, what more should I be responsible for doing?”

Planning and Zoning Attorney Kirk Correll suggested the discussion cease until Maples was present to speak on matters concerning him. 

“You don’t have a problem as far as we’re concerned because there has not been a complaint filed,” Correll said. 

Roberts, however, was told that a complaint had been filed against his pet-grooming salon and that a certified letter would be sent to him. As of Tuesday this week, Roberts said he had not received the letter. 

Board of Adjustment hearings have been scheduled for both Miracle and Roberts on Nov. 15 at the L&N Depot beginning at 6 p.m. regarding requests for variances on their LED signs. 
Maples said Mayor Eddie Carter received a certified letter from code enforcement over his own property located across from the pet salon and flower shop. 
After the nuisance complaints were filed, both Miracle and Roberts pointed back at the city, drawing attention to the condition of Carter’s property which they described as a junkyard of parked cars with “knee-high grass.”

Maples said a hearing was held to address Carter’s property, which he agreed to bring into compliance, and some evidence of that work was apparent this week.

Conflict of interest issue resolved
Stanford City Councilman John Sallee has resigned from the board of adjustments in light of recent knowledge that his service on both entities was in violation of a city ordinance. The issue was brought to the council’s attention during their last monthly meeting by local resident Jim Jarret. 

Jarret said according to Stanford code ordinance 152.270, the board of adjustments consists of five citizen members, two of whom may be citizen members of the planning commission.
“A citizen member means any member of the Planning Commission or Board of Adjustment who is not also an elected or appointed official or employee of the City Council,” the ordinance states. The mayor has 60 days to fill the vacancy.