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Target asks help for sign variance

SuperTarget wants to swap a huge billboard for a larger wall sign on the side of the store on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 22, 2002


WESLEY CHAPEL -- Head up Bruce B. Downs Boulevard from New Tampa and the big red and white bull's-eye is already visible, nearly a mile in the distance, over the Pasco County line.

That eye catcher, a 40-foot pylon sign announcing the soon-to-open SuperTarget on County Line Road, could come tumbling down if neighbors agreed to a deal offered by store owners.

SuperTarget promises to replace the two-story sign with a 15-foot masonry monument sign, but only if neighbors drop their opposition to 820 square feet of wall signs on the side of the store.

The county allows stores a total of 300 square feet of wall signs. To exceed that limit, Target needs a variance from the Pasco Development Review Committee.

At the urging of neighbors in such Wesley Chapel communities as Meadow Pointe, the committee rejected one such sign expansion request in November.

Target is trying again with a second, bigger variance request scheduled for a hearing Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at the Historic Pasco County Courthouse in Dade City.

Target officials said that without the larger lettering on the side of the store -- some letters will be 11 feet tall -- the signs would look blurry to passing motorists when illuminated at night.

But neighbors' reaction to the proposed deal has been succinct: nothing doing.

The county is drawing up regulations for businesses on Bruce B. Downs that will shrink the size of signs.

It's an attempt to duplicate the antieyesore rules in effect over the border in Hillsborough, where even a Wal-Mart superstore limits roadside advertising to a humble masonry sign.

Residents have said they fear that agreeing to Target's terms would compromise future attempts to ban large illuminated signs in the soon-to-develop business corridor.

-- James Thorner covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached in central Pasco at (813) 909-4613. His e-mail address is thorner@sptimes.com.

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