Plan for towering sign puts officials in a pickle

Port CDA members question size, look of sign but are hesitant to complicate plan to bring grocery to city
Ozaukee Press staff

A proposal to erect a towering sign for the proposed Piggly Wiggly supermarket at the NorthPort Shopping Center generated some controversy when Port’s Community Development Authority reviewed the proposal last month.

While members of the panel questioned the need for a sign that is larger and taller than the current one, several expressed concern that turning down the sign might discourage Piggly Wiggly from locating at the north-side shopping center.

“I guess people need to decide, do you want a nice sign or do you want a grocery store,” CDA member Erica Roller said.

“It’s an ugly sign. But I’ve now lived without the Sentry store there for a few months and it’s a pain in the butt.”

Ald. Mike Ehrlich, chairman of the CDA, concurred, saying, “I don’t want this to be a deal killer.”

But the proposed sign would be 55 feet tall, compared to the current sign, which is 32 feet, 3-1/4 inches tall, said Randy Tetzlaff, the city’s director of planning and development.

By contrast, he said, the Allen-Edmonds sign is 45 feet tall.

The brick base of the proposed sign would be 12 feet tall, Tetzlaff said, and the sign itself would be 280 square feet, compared to 93 feet currently.

Unlike the current sign, which advertises not just the former Sentry store but also the shopping center in general, the new one would only mention the Piggly Wiggly store, he added.

The city has been trying to work with the shopping center owners, who are also developing the grocery store, to modify the sign design, Tetzlaff said, noting the city has sought to eliminate pylon signs and replace them with monument signs.

“We’ve told them, ‘We’ll work with you on a new sign, but it’s got to look more like a monument sign,’” Tetzlaff said.

CDA members speculated that the new sign was designed so it can be seen from I-43.

“Right now, you can barely see ‘NorthPort Shopping Center,’” Ehrlich said. “By the time you see it, you’re past it.”

“Do people get off the freeway to grocery shop?” asked member Missy Larson, referencing tourists and others who aren’t from the area but merely passing the city. “They (the shopping center owner) should really stay in line with Allen-Edmonds. 

“But if we’re going to give (approval) to them, it has to be attractive.”

The design of the proposed sign is basic, committee members said, adding that if it were improved the city might be more inclined to look favorably on a larger than standard sign.

It wouldn’t be difficult to design a sign that could be considered public art, member Bill Prince said, sketching over the proposed sign to create a sign that resembled a mast and sail.

“I wouldn’t be that opposed to the sign if they did something more,” Ehrlich said. “They have to give a little.”



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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