Smaller sign must be installed

HARLINGEN – Bigger isn’t necessarily better, especially when the sign violates city ordinances.

A petition to the Zoning Board of Adjustments for a hardship variance for a sign already installed without receiving the go-ahead first, was rejected on a 5-0 vote yesterday.

Footy Rooty, a foot care and massage business at 1342 Ed Carey Drive, installed a new sign without receiving city clearance. That sign, about 70 square feet in size, was far larger than the 32 square feet of signage allowable under city law for a business at that location.

Since signage variances already have been granted for two other businesses in the plaza, Lucky Sushi and Pena Eye Institute, officials with the city’s Planning and Zoning Department recommended the variance be granted.

“The applicant had hired a side contractor to install the sign,” said city planner Carlos Guerra. “And when it was brought to his attention that he was going to need permits, he was not able to get hold of the sign contractor.”

Guerra said his department recommended the variance be granted, since it was “generally consistent with other signage at the retail location.”

But board members questioned why the sign had been installed before the owner applied for a hardship exemption for the oversized sign.

And they also questioned how the sign installer could just disappear.

“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission,” said board Chairman David Wolf.

Footy Rooty has six franchise locations in South Texas. The owner of the Harlingen franchise did not attend yesterday’s meeting.

“As a business owner … I follow these rules myself,” said board member Cesar Perez. “These guys, its not their first rodeo, they’ve done this before. Everybody should abide by the same rules.”

Board member Frank Garcia also questioned granting a variance for the oversized sign, which crowds existing signage of businesses on each side of Footy Rooty. Garcia said the board needed to apply “common sense” in this case.

Garcia made a motion to reject the hardship variance. It was approved unanimously.