Connell’s changes white box to gray;: wants to keep it plain and simple

By Lenny C. Lepola

March 12, 2014

Tony Fox, KBI Construction, was at the Monday, February 24, Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission meeting seeking a nod of approval for plans to build a 28,000-square-foot Connells Furniture & Mattresses store at 520 Commerce Drive in the lot next to J&J Carpets.

Fox, representing both Mount Vernon-based Connell’s and the builder who will lease the building to Connell’s, faced two roadblocks when he presented Zoning Commission members with building elevations. The proposed building in the renderings showed an all-white box, and the building’s graphics and signage was almost three times what code allows.

Fox said the white box and large graphics were a concept that Connell’s Furniture wanted to use at all their stores as they expand beyond Mount Vernon and Newark.

Zoning Commission member Tim Gose said he would not vote to approve the white box building; that it would stick out like a sore thumb. Sunbury Mayor Tommy Hatfield said the objection to white would be, in his words, a big deal.

Fox also showed an elevation with the Connell’s Furniture & Mattresses sign, plus six 8-foot by 8-foot panels with images of furniture. Each panel would be 64 square feet. Even if trimmed to 60 square feet each the signage, which includes the lettered entry sign and graphics, would total 500 square feet, three times what code allows.

After discussing graphics at 6 by 6 feet, 5 by 5, and 4 by 4, Fox said he would advise his client that signage would be a problem.

Village Solicitor David Brehm reminded everyone that the issue on the table was a plan review and zoning certificate request; that signage was a separate issue to be discussed during subsequent meetings.

Sunbury Consulting Engineer Wes Hall, CT Consultants, recommended an architectural review for the building color. Commission members approved a motion for the plan review and zoning certificate with three contingencies — the building color would be an earth tone, final engineering approval and site plan approval. Signage remains a separate issue.

Fast forward to last Wednesday (March 5) evening’s Sunbury Village Council meeting, when Council members held a first reading of Ordinance 2014-06, approving the application for plan review and zoning certificate.

Fox was again in chambers representing Connell’s, this time with reworked elevations showing a light gray building with a lighter gray horizontal band and vertical wall seams that were recommended following the CT Consultants architectural review.

“They didn’t want to do that unless you made us do it,” Fox said. “The owner said if they can’t have the graphics they want to keep the exterior plain and simple.”

When it was noted that the architectural review and Zoning Commission had asked for an earth tone to replace the white box illustration Fox presented at the zoning meeting, Fox said Webster’s Dictionary says gray is an earth tone.

“We’ve probably said yes to 85 percent of your requirements,” Fox added.

Hall admitted that it appeared as if Connell’s Furniture was complying with the zoning commission member’s recommendations; adding that he did not know to what extent the village could dictate color.

“From an elevation standpoint this looks much better than what we saw the other night at zoning,” added Council member Len Weatherby, who also sits on the Zoning Commission. “They’ve come a long way. Their first presentation was a snow white building.”

Ordinance 2014-06 has readings on March 19 and April 2, followed by an up or down vote. Council members have the option of suspending the rules and approving emergency language at either reading to eliminate the statutory 30-day waiting period, allowing construction to begin immediately following approval of the ordinance.

The Connell’s Furniture & Mattresses site plan and signage issues still need to be addressed by members of the Zoning Commission.

Because of spring break the March meeting of the Village of Sunbury Planning & Zoning Commission was originally moved to March 17. Due to the timing of an American Showa request for five variances on an addition to the plant’s Research and Development facility the next Zoning meeting has been rescheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, April 3, in third floor Council Chambers, Sunbury Town Hall.