An hour-long discussion over signs for the new Kent CVS ended with the Kent Planning Commission agreeing to delay its vote on the application.
CVS already has approval from the planning commission to demolish and rebuild its existing store with a newly designed, larger building.
But the pharmacy chain had to submit a comprehensive sign package under the city's recently adopted sign code to deal with the proposed electronic sign and standard letter signs on the building facade.
Brad Rhodes, of SignArt Inc., is designing the sign package for CVS and said the building signs would be somewhat smaller at the new Kent store than the typical CVS store. One example: the "CVS Pharmacy" signs on the Kent building would have a 30-inch letter set compared with a typical 48-inch letter set at other CVS stores.
"The 30-inch 'CVS Pharmacy' (sign) we feel is just at the right size for that location for good readability," Rhodes said. "We think that we’ve scaled it back so that it reflects the area. It reflects what Walgreens is doing."
The new Kent CVS would have about a dozen signs, ranging from drive-thru signs to an electronic monument sign, and the facade-mounted "CVS Pharmacy" signs would total about 75 square feet on two different sides of the building. CVS had to submit a comprehensive sign package for the project, under the new code, because they want more than three signs.
Sean Kaine, chair of the planning commission, said the sign code limits the wall-mounted signs to no more than 25 square feet. He also pointed out that Walgreens is located in a different zoning district than the CVS store and falls under a different sign code.
Kaine said there are exceptions in the code for multiple-tenant buildings — which this is not — and "large sites" with 3 acres or more, which this site doesn't meet.
He said the commission has to determine if CVS is trying to work within the flexibility allowed by the comprehensive sign package or "if this is an attempt to circumvent the code."
Rhodes said CVS is trying to work with the city on the sign package.
"We’re trying to keep it within your sign code," Rhodes said. "We just feel that the building size, the property being a free-standing building, requires a little larger signage."
Still, many of the planning commission members expressed concern about the number and size of the signs and wanted to see a more detailed overall site plan, which they did not have an up-to-date version of Tuesday.
"I guess my first reaction is there’s a lot of signs on this site," commission member Peter Paino said. "The signage that you have exceeds what we would like to see on the building by quite a bit" he told Rhodes.
Kaine suggested a delay to Rhodes, who asked the commission to table the issue until its Nov. 15 meeting so he can work with Kent's planning staff to address some of the issues raised.
Jennifer Barone, Kent planning engineer, said Tuesday night was the first time the planning commission dealt with a comprehensive sign package as part of the new sign code.
"It’s new to all of us, so we’ll try to work through it," she said.