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City taps brakes on car dealership signs

A local car dealership will have to wait before ordering new signs.

The Midwest City Council last week denied a request by Hudiburg Toyota to replace two signs outside their dealership at 5800 Tinker Diagonal.

The proposed signs would not comply with the city’s sign ordinance, which went into effect in 2010.  A few council members expressed concern about granting a variance from the ordinance, which they said could set precedent for the future.

Following 20 minutes of discussion, the council voted in a 3-3 tie. Ward 6 Councilman Jeff Moore was absent from the meeting. The council later agreed to table the item, which would allow the item to appear again at the next meeting.

“This will give us some time to put our heads together and see if we can come up with an acceptable course of action,” Mayor Matt Dukes said.
Hudiburg says they need to replace one of their signs due to changes with its branding. Toyota announced it will discontinue the Scion brand at all dealerships. Hudiburg’s current sign features both the Toyota and Scion logos.

The dealership also wanted to install a new sign for its pre-owned vehicle section, so it would be the same height as the Toyota sign. The current pre-owned sign is at lower grade on the property. Both of the new signs would be 10 feet wide by 35 feet tall.

According to the ordinance, one freestanding sign is allowed for each 600 feet of frontage property. Hudiburg Toyota has about 480 feet of frontage along Tinker Diagonal.  The city allowed businesses with non-compliant signs to be grandfathered in.

Councilman Pat Byrne said he believes the signs are appropriate and supported Hudiburg’s request.

“It’s on a heavily traveled highway and we’re trying to encourage business and I don’t have a problem with this variance,” Byrne said.  “I know we disapproved one last week, but that was a different set of facts.”

Council members Daniel McClure and Sean Reed opposed the plan. McClure said he liked the signs but said the city should address the issue by modifying the sign ordinance. Reed said the city should not show favoritism to large businesses.

“As a very small business owner in the city, we can’t step out and do something a month ago differently for a small guy then we’re going to do for the big guy,” Reed said.
Dukes said the city need to take caution when granting a variance.

“It’s not the fact that it’s Hudiburg, it’s not the fact that it’s anyone else,” Dukes said. “It’s the fact that we passed an ordinance. We have an ordinance on the books and we should not allow a variance.”

Billy Harless, Community Development Director, reminded the council that if Hudiburg modified one of the signs, they would need to come in compliance with the ordinance.
Byrne, Rick Dawkins and Christine Allen voted for the variance request. McClure, Reed and Dukes cast the three not votes.

If the city denied the request, Dennis Davis, Hudiburg Toyota GM, said the dealership would replace the main sign and take down the pre-owned sign.

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