Planning Commission approves Grocery Outlet sign

The proposed Grocery Outlet monument sign. (Courtesy graphic)

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The Winters Planning Commission held a public hearing to discuss approving a new monument sign for the Grocery Outlet store on Grant Avenue.

Grocery Outlet requested an amendment to the Site Plan/Design Review and Sign Permit previously approved by the Planning Commission on Sept. 27, 2022.

In the staff report attached to the meeting, the amendment was “to include a new monument sign” that would “be located perpendicular to Grant Avenue near the plaza” with the size being “proposed to be five feet high by five feet wide and would be finished with a brick veneer matching the brick veneer approved for the store.”

Senior city planner Kirk Skierski told Planning Commissioners that, “in evaluating design review and sign permit requests, the primary focus is compliance with the sign regulations in the city’s design guidelines.” Two of those guidelines, one stating that signs should be made of material “in harmony” with the rest of the exterior and the other stating the size of the sign, are met by the proposed sign. 

Skierksi said the sign is similar to one already in use by the Yolo Federal Credit Union building, and added that staff recommends “a new condition requiring the design of the proposed monument sign be modified to include adding brick veneer columns to hide the sides.”

In the public comment session, resident Kate Laddish sought clarification on how the sign differed from the kind of “canned sign” that the city prohibits.

The Grant Avenue Design Guidelines prohibits “canned signs” described as an “internally illuminated plastic box” but allows for “individually illuminated channel letters.” Skierski notes that this proposed sign is “technically a canned sign but has additional facade treatments of these brick columns going up the side to further hide the plastic” and that the sign’s letters will be individually illuminated rather than the entire plastic face. 

Commissioner Judith Arce asked if it was normal for a site to request another sign so long after its construction, and wondered if this sign in addition to existing signs on site would be “overkill.” Skierski noted that the applicant did note the “general location” of the sign during construction and that it isn’t uncommon for signs to be added after the initial construction.

Commission Vice Chair Lisa Baker asked Assistant City Attorney Martin de los Angeles “would it be appropriate to specify that staff would review the material that’s going to be used. To which de los Angeles said that would be “a reasonable condition to impose.” Commission Chair Gregory Contreras asked if a condition regarding upkeep could also be added, which the attorney also confirmed.

Baker wondered if “imposing both seems harsh” and Contreras agreed that the commission should “err on the side of not interfering too much” while also acknowledging, “there should be some kind of metric so we don’t ruin our nice corridor.”

The recommendation was passed unanimously, with Baker adding it will be “with the proviso that we add a condition of approval for required maintenance.”

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