Government Center Professional Building Electronic Sign
Update: This application was denied by the BOCS on 11/22/16 by a vote of six to two.
This is an application for an electronic LED sign (pictured above) for the front corner of the facade of the multi-story private office building at the corner of Prince William Parkway and Hoadly Road (pictured below). The building already has eleven signs on it. A Special Use Permit is required for this new sign because it is not allowed in our area unless there are extenuating circumstances. County staff says there are not and are recommending denial. This area is protected by an Overlay District and is the gateway to our semi-rural area that borders on the Occoquan Reservoir and the Rural Crescent. If approved, this sign could serve as a precedent for more such electronic signs in our area, particularly since this would be the first sign of its kind mounted on a building. These are among the reasons staff recommends denial, but it could still be allowed if county supervisors vote to approve it. The project was previewed at the September 17th 2015 MIDCO meeting with clear opposition from the community members present. A letter from MIDCO to the BOCS is copied below.
November 17, 2016
Prince William Board of County Supervisors
MIDCO has reviewed the electronic sign permit application (sup2015-20021) for the Government Center Professional Building and we are recommending denial of the permit for the following reasons:
1. This building already has eleven large signs on its façade which detract from the appearance of this prominent edifice, with the possibility of at least five more. The building is very close to the intersection so the effect of the clutter is magnified. While the basic building design may be pleasing and attractive, the numerous signs already present obscure the architecture and an electronic sign would magnify the clutter and add an undesirable high intensity vibe to the building.
2. An electronic sign in this location, due to its prominent placement relative to a major intersection, would be distracting and disruptive to drivers and therefore become a safety hazard.
3. This is a gateway area to the semi-rural portion of the county and as such we need to minimize the more extreme commercial aspects of the strip shopping centers present to the east and west. An electronic sign would add a billboard-like effect to this corner.
4. In our meetings and through correspondence, we have yet to hear from anyone in the nearby communities that is in favor of the electronic sign. County professional staff are recommending denial.
5. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, an electronic sign on a building would be precedent setting and could lead to a proliferation of these signs in the semi-rural area. Once one is allowed it will be very hard to deny others, especially since this one would be allowed in the rural HCOD if approved. There are other proposed developments, like the self-storage facility across the street, that will likely take advantage of this precedent if it is established.
The community will not be well-served by permitting this electronic sign and allowing it will likely lead to a visual degradation of the semi-rural mid-county area in the future. For all these reasons we agree with staff and urge the BOCS to deny this permit.