RPB Zoning Change To Allow Rotating Signs At Drive-Throughs

By Paul L. Gaba

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission, meeting as the Local Planning Agency, approved a zoning code text amendment Tuesday, July 28 that would allow restaurants to put in rotating price signs as part of their drive-through options.

The proposal would allow for an exception to the village’s prohibition on rotating signs for restaurants with drive-through facilities, and would cover all restaurants in the village.

The request was made by owners of the McDonald’s restaurant at the northeast corner of Royal Palm Beach Blvd. and Okeechobee Blvd., and was met with no opposition from either village staff or the board members present at the meeting.

Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Administrator Bradford O’Brien explained that the request would amend the current ordinance to allow one menu pricing sign, with a maximum height and width of 7 feet each, to be permitted, but specify that it needed to be a minimum of 75 feet from any residentially zoned boundary.

“It is my understanding that this text amendment would apply to the entire village, not one specific site,” Board Chair Joseph Boyle said. “Any residential area next to a drive-in restaurant won’t have Jack in the Box looking through their window unless it’s at least 75 feet away.”

Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said that the McDonald’s would not be the first restaurant in the village with such a sign.

“There are some drive-through restaurants that have menu pricing signs, that were issued permits, which was not supposed to have been done, but they are technically legally nonconforming,” Ashton said. “There’s one restaurant, the Steak ’n Shake, that wouldn’t meet the 75-foot requirement. But our position is, they are already legally noncomforming, so this wouldn’t change that. We aren’t taking anyone’s signs away.”

The major question raised at the meeting was not about the actual request but about future restaurant signage possibilities.

“I don’t have any problems with the recommendation. However, from what I’ve seen already, Burger King and McDonald’s do, to some extent, already have signs that interchange from breakfast to lunch,” Board Member Richard Becher said. “Are we heading toward digital menus? Is that where this is going down the road?”

O’Brien said that would not surprise him.

“If I took out my crystal ball and was projecting to the future, I think you’d see some digitizing of menu signs,” he said. “I think the visual illustrations where you are ordering by pictures, I don’t think that will change, unless it became a TV monitor. That’s where you would probably see digitization.”

Ashton added that such a move would require an entirely new village code amendment.

The amendment now heads to the Royal Palm Beach Village Council at its next meeting, on Thursday, Aug. 20.