‘It Seems a Little Excessive’: P&Z Voices Concern over Request for Second Sign Behind Bank-Owned Building

Saying a proposed second sign out back of a corporate building on Elm Street was too large, the Planning & Zoning Commission at its most recent hearing continued an application filed on behalf a community bank.

Rendering of the proposed signage out back of the bank on Elm Street. ABC Sign: http://newcanaan.info/filestorage/9488/9220/785/803/22886/24846/Bankwell_220_Elm_Exterior_Identity_Final.pdf

Under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations (see the final paragraph on page 127 here), P&Z may grant a business a second sign larger than one square foot for the rear entrance of a first-floor use.

Yet what Bankwell had proposed for the non-walk-in, corporate headquarters at 220 Elm St.—a building that houses other commercial tenants—appears to be too big at 12-by-134 feet, according to P&Z Secretary Jean Grzelecki.

The back of the bank’s building at 220 Elm St. as it is. Credit: Michael Dinan

“It seems a little excessive,” Grzelecki said at the group’s June 26 special meeting, held in Town Hall.

“I could see this being totally appropriate if in fact Bankwell were moving into this building, with one sign on the front and one sign on the back, to identify for its own customers coming. But do we really need this large signage for people who know where they work?”

According to attorney David Rucci of New Canaan-based Lampert, Toohey & Rucci, who filed the application on behalf of Bankwell, the company recently acquired the building at number 220—it’s one door down from Bankwell’s walk-in branch at 208 Elm St.—and is eager for those seeking to visit its corporate offices to use the rear entrance (facing the Lumberyard parking lot).

“They don’t want people to go in the front,” Rucci said. “They want people to go come in the rear, where their offices are. There are other tenants in the front of the building. That is not where you would enter to go to Bankwell.”

He added that the rear entrance of Bankwell at 220 Elm St. is probably some 300 to 400 feet away from other properties downtown and that the nearest vantage point may be Pine Street businesses such as Oxygen Fitness and Walgreen’s.

“I don’t think it’s really objectionable to anyone else to have the sign in that particular area,” Rucci said.

Hearing P&Z’s concerns, Rucci suggested that Bankwell return at a future meeting with different lettering and a smaller sign.

“They are looking for prominent signage for people to come into their place, but they are not looking to annoy neighbors in any way,” Rucci said. “They are not looking to advertise, in other words, to people across the street.”

P&Z members sought clarification from the applicant as to just how the corporate offices are used and what kinds of visitors, if not Bankwell employees, would require signage to direct them to the rear entrance. Rucci said officials from the bank were not immediately available to attend the special meeting.

P&Z Chairman John Goodwin said that, to his memory, the only time the group recently had granted a sign larger than one square foot in a similar case was for Black Creek Designs, whose Grove Street building is largely hidden from the street and which has a sign facing the Lumberyard lot out the back.

Bankwell’s application may be viewed here. P&Z is scheduled to meet next on July 25.

One thought on “‘It Seems a Little Excessive’: P&Z Voices Concern over Request for Second Sign Behind Bank-Owned Building

  1. Give me a break. Who cares. Bankwell is a responsible corporate member of the community and we should treat them as such.

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