Toyota Sign Request Concerns Royal Palm Beach Zoning Board

At the Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission’s meeting last week, new officers were chosen, and Toyota Corporation’s Chicago headquarters were alerted that they can’t call the shots in the village.

At the April 23 meeting, Commission Chair June Perrin opted against serving another year in that role, and Vice Chair David Leland was chosen to serve as the new chair, with Commissioner Ross Shillingford named vice chair.

A public hearing requesting a variance for wall signage at the Toyota dealership on Southern Blvd. was withdrawn by the applicant after extensive discussion revealed that commission consensus was to deny the application. Staff had recommended denial based upon the plan’s violation of code requirements.

UAG Royal Palm Auto was seeking a variance to allow for two more signs on the façade at the Toyota facility. This would have amounted to a total of five signs, when the village code only permits three.

“The applicant has received a prior variance approval for two additional signs, but now they’re asking for a third and in larger sizes and in different dimensions,” Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien said.

Josh Nichols of the planning firm Schmidt Nichols, speaking for the applicant, said that there were special circumstances that necessitated consideration. He said that Toyota corporate headquarters in Chicago requires that every few years dealers do marketing and imaging upgrades or face penalties.

Commissioner Ray Nazareth was concerned about competition with neighboring dealerships.

“You’re going to get an unfair advantage over the other dealers nearby,” Nazareth said.

Nichols pointed out that they are all the same ownership.

“They’re all in the same family, and they’re looking at overall imaging for the property,” he said, noting that the facility has grown and changed, and the signage would reflect the changes.

Commissioner Adam Miller was concerned about a corporation attempting to dictate village codes. “I wonder if we’re going to be in the same position five years from now because Toyota wants upgrades,” Miller said, asking staff about the current code and the new architectural scheme.

O’Brien noted that the commission doesn’t allow modifications to an application at a hearing.

“We have village rules and laws, and we can’t change them for out-of-town corporations,” Perrin said.

Nazareth hoped that a compromise could be reached. “We want to work this out,” he said. “We don’t want to have to deny them.”

He asked if they could go back to the national corporation and come back with another proposal.

Miller said that the village has already granted a sign variance to the site, and that the applicant should ask Toyota for relief due to the hardship.

In response to the concerns raised, the applicant withdrew the application and the decision was postponed in order to prevent the denial. The measure will go back to staff for a technical review.

In other business:

• The Nautica Lakes neighborhood received approval to replace plantings that had been changed over time in order to return them to appropriate plants to accommodate sunny and shady areas.

• The former Hidden Harbor apartments, located on Kingfisher Way, received approval to repaint the property in approved colors. Dominic Albero, spokesman for the applicant Excel Consultants Inc., said that capital improvements are going on at the recently purchased property, which is also being rebranded as Verse at Royal Palm.

“The objective is to make it brighter and improve curbside appeal,” he said.

• An existing monument sign replacement was approved for the Sunoco gas station on Okeechobee Blvd. It is to receive an updated, industry standard LED sign for pricing. Nazareth said he liked the change. “It is a major improvement when you see the before and after,” he said.

• Jiffy Lube received approval to replace its awnings and repaint the property in the Village Shoppes on State Road 7.

All of the commission’s decisions will go before the Royal Palm Beach Village Council for final approval.