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Archives for November 13, 2014

Winter Yard And Garden Tips

Most Nebraskans were not finished with fall yard clean-up when Monday night’s snow and ice storm struck parts of the state. Strong winds stripped many trees of remaining leaves and homeowners are anxious to get them raked and bagged. Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Educator John Fech says the best thing you can do for your lawn is to keep off the grass.

:26   “wait until it warms up a bit.”
Fech says there really isn’t much left to do to get ready for winter except take care of broadleaf evergreens.

:27   “high 30’s and go from there.”
He also recommends covering the trunks of young trees with PVC pipe to protect them from rodent and deer damage.
He says when the ice melts there is still time to protect young trees.

:10 A  “rabbit damage, mouse damage.”
Fech says about the only thing left to do over the winter months is to apply an anti-drying agent to broadleaf evergreens a few times on warm days.

More snow is forecast for Saturday.

Article source: http://www.kwbe.com/news/2014/11/13/kutt-local-news/winter-yard-and-garden-tips/

Red Bluff Garden Club: Garden tips

Garden tips have a way of getting around, especially those that really work. Some of these tips you may have heard of, or even used before, but they are worth repeating.

Turn a glass into a greenhouse; create a miniature green house for seedlings with an ordinary drinking glass or any clear glass or plastic container. Start your seeds in remoistened potting soil and cover them keeping the pot in a warm place to promote germination and growth. The container provides protection from cold air and holds in moisture. Just make sure the container is clear so light can get through.

Work wonders with Epsom salt, here is a rule of thumb for feeding Epsom salt to both tomatoes and roses, add one teaspoon of salt for every foot of height. Sprinkle it in a circle around the stem and work it in. If the leaves are turning yellow and looking mineral deficient, mix the salt with some water and spray it directly on the plant. Use this mineral feast twice a month for great flowers and fruit.

Make sure to soak clay pots in water for a few minutes before you plant in them. This will saturate the clay, so it will not absorb water from the potting mix.

Azaleas looking a little sickly, they could be lacking acid. This problem can be eliminated by combining one cup vinegar with one gallon water then spreading this combo around the base of the azalea. Continue to water several times with this mixture to raise the ph level. Another use for vinegar is to apply full strength directly on any weed or area of grass that you want to eliminate. Reapply to new growth until plants no longer come back.

Have a problem with slugs? The little devils are attracted to beer, and since they can’t swim, they crawl into the beer and drown. Bury a plastic butter tub or similar container to hold the beer. Only fill it about half full so they cannot climb back out. Be sure to empty the container every day or so and refill with beer.

Feed your roses with banana peels. Forget expensive fertilizers for your garden. Old banana peels work just as well for growing fabulous flowers and yummy veggies. That is because they are rich in potassium and phosphorus. Banana peels are especially helpful for roses. Save them until they are crisp and crumbly, cut them into small pieces, and bury them a few inches in the soil around your rosebush.

Simple trick to controlling an unruly hose. Sometimes it seems as if your garden hose has a mind of its own and refuses to coil back peacefully. Make hose handling easier by leaving the water on as you coil your hose up. This way you will avoid the frustration of the maddening kinks and twists of an empty hose.

It is beneficial to plant in small groups. This way plants can help each other out by shading each other’s roots and protection from winds.

Red Bluff Garden Club is affiliated with Cascade District Garden Club; California Garden Club, Inc; Pacific Region Garden Club, and national Garden Club, Inc.

Article source: http://www.redbluffdailynews.com/oped/ci_26929161/red-bluff-garden-club-garden-tips

Bathrooms With Full Frontal Views

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Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/13/garden/bathrooms-with-full-frontal-views.html

Botanical gardens master plan to be unveiled – The Courier

After a quarter-century of wishing and waiting, supporters of a major public gardens in Louisville are edging closer to their dream with the pending conversion of a longtime riverfront dump into an exotic botanical project.

A new master plan has been developed for the long-anticipated Waterfront Botanical Gardens — a project that consultants predict will draw more than 100,000 visitors a year to the 23-acre site across from Waterfront Park, soon after it opens around 2019.

It calls for a visitors center, a children’s play area, an educational pavilion, an elevated platform overlooking Beargrass Creek and a large conservatory as key elements in the garden project. It is targeted for a former landfill along River Road just east of Frankfort Avenue.

Botanica Inc. will unveil the master plan and final renderings at its annual meeting Thursday evening at the Zorn Avenue Water Tower. The meeting is open to the public, but is full, said Brian Voelker, board president of Botanica, a local nonprofit group dedicated to promoting the understanding of plants, gardening and sustainability.

Supporters hope within two years to raise about $10 million to pay for phase one — seeking money from government, foundations, corporations and individuals — and then take two more years to develop the first portions of the project with those dollars. The phasing of the rest of the development will be driven by fund-raising, with a total of around $35 million needed for the full project, officials said.

Supporters also intend to raise another $5 million to $8 million in an endowment that would generate interest to help cover operations. The Helen Harrigan Trust has already put up $1.8 million for the endowment, Voelker said.

Contemporary, cutting edge design

Voelker said the master plan has proposed “a very contemporary, sustainable project on the cutting edge” of major botanical exhibits.

Botanical gardens advocates have eyed a large local public project since at least the 1980s, when supporters hired the late and noted Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx to design a large conservatory-centered garden plan. The preferred location was the old Ormsby Village site in eastern Jefferson County — now the ShelbyHurst office park.

Funding never materialized, and interest faded — but never died, kept alive primarily by hundreds of members of garden and flower clubs who fancy tending roses, irises, bonsai plants, day lilies and a host of other things that grow.

The consultant, Perkins+Will of Chicago and Atlanta, was chosen early this year by Botanica to design the master plan. The firm has designed dozens of major landscape projects, including the Van Dusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver and the McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach, Fla.

Voelker said the firm has done nearly all the work, but still needs to put cost estimates on different elements. That work should be done in a few weeks, Voelker said.

The firm is being paid $260,000 — much of which was cobbled together by the garden organizations.

The master plan calls for these elements in phase one:

• The main entrance off Frankfort at the west end of the site, just south of the transplanted Heigold House Facade. A series of pathways will meander through the gardens, connecting different areas of the development. A bikeway will wind around the perimeter. A “cascade garden” with a waterfall will accent the entryway area, which will have an array of to-be-determined plantings.

• A children’s garden in the northwest corner of the site. It will have numerous interactive components, with features including a treehouse, an elevated walkway between trees and massive “seedpod” sculptures — some hanging off trees and some on the ground — in which children can play. The pods will double as lanterns to light the site at night for River Road passersby.

• A one-level visitors center, straight in from the main entrance in the western half of the site. It will have a green roof and 3,000 square feet of space. Facilities will include both a restaurant and cafe, a gift shop, rental space for functions, a kitchen, offices, restrooms, meeting space, ticketing, mechanical facilities and storage room.

• A circular water-filtration garden that will recycle water used at the visitors center through several pools. The water will be cleaned by plants growing in the pool.

• An elevated platform overlook at the east end of the site, offering a panoramic view of Beargrass Creek.

In addition, there will be numerous scattered garden-style areas of plantings, some with native and some with foreign varieties. And the plan calls for a generous number of dispersed greenhouses, some of which could be used by the garden clubs and flower societies.

While later phasing remains uncertain, depending on fund-raising, the master plan calls for a large, mostly glass conservatory as a centerpiece of the entire site, covering perhaps three-fourths of an acre, Mike Kimmel, Botanica vice president. The design shows a spiral path wrapping around the edge of the structure, ending in a platform above the entrance that overlooks a garden meadow.

One other major component would be an education pavilion near the rear of the site that will have extensive “flex” space for lectures, classes, and rotating displays.

Kimmel, who is also deputy director of the gardens-friendly Waterfront Development Corp., which oversees Waterfront Park, said project is now more viable than ever, mainly because of the nearby park’s completion and the opening of the Big Four Bridge.

Other boosts for the gardens include the planned 2,000 dwellings at River Park Place across River Road and downtown’s continuing development along the Main and Fourth street spines, Kimmel said.

Outside education

The city closed the Ohio Street Landfill in the 1960s, after operating it for around 30 years. The surface is an elevated plateau created by decades of built-up waste — about 40 feet above River Road, well above the floodplain.

Kimmel said preliminary studies have found no major environmental constraints and that state officials have given use of the site a “thumbs up.”

The Waterfront Development Corp. owns a vacant seven-acre industrial tract across Frankfort Avenue near the planned entrance to the gardens. Kimmel said the agency would be willing to negotiate a lease to use the site for gardens visitors to park. It could accommodate several hundred vehicles.

Botanica signed an agreement last year to take control of the old landfill site from the city. The initial lease is for five years, after which Botanica is guaranteed a chance to buy the property, probably for a nominal price, Kimmel said.

Admissions have not been established, but Voelker said the average adult fee probably would be $6 to $8.

An economic study commissioned by Botanica concluded that the botanical project would draw around 110,000 paid visitors in its third year of operation, and up to 170,000 a year after 10 years. The study recommended a full-time staff of 22 soon after startup, with significant volunteer help expected.

The study forecast annual operating costs of $1.2 million in the third year, with hoped-for offsetting revenue from admissions, space rentals, donations and endowment earnings, Voelker said.

Voelker said Botanica believes the project will have with many unique features, so as not to conflict with other botanical projects in the region, including Bernheim Forest near Clermont and Yew Dell at Crestwood.

Officials said Louisville is perhaps one of the largest U.S. cities without a major botanical attraction. Kimmel said that Philadelphia, for instance, has about 40 public gardens. And nearly all of the country’s large public botanical exhibits have some guaranteed government source of support, Kimmel said.

Karen Williams, Louisville Convention Visitors Bureau CEO, said the gardens project “has been in discussion for years” and that, if and when it comes on line, “it will be a great attraction to offer both the leisure and convention traveler. And having another major project on the waterfront is something to be excited about.”

Kasey Maier, a strong supporter of the gardens project, said, “You won’t be able to walk into the project, without getting educated. You will look at a plant and say, ‘Wow! What’s up with that?’ And the garden project will connect Waterfront Park, downtown and other areas. It is kind of the last piece in the puzzle.”

Reporter Sheldon S. Shafer can be reached at (502) 582-7089. Follow him on Twitter at @sheldonshafer.

Major elements in phase one of Waterfront Botanical Gardens:

• Main entrance area with cascade garden and waterfall.

• Visitors Center with restaurant and cafe, gift shop, rental space, kitchen, offices, ticketing, storage.

• Water-filtration garden with pools featuring recycled water.

• Overlook offering view of Beargrass Creek.

• Later phases call for large central conservatory and education facility.

• For more information on project, go to waterfrontgardens.org.

Financing

• Phase one: Estimated cost, $10 million. Botanica Inc. plan is to seek funding from foundations, government, corporations, individuals.

• Endowment of $5 million to $8 million also planned. Major endowment contribution so far: $1.8 million from Helen Harrigan Trust of Louisville.

Article source: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2014/11/13/botanical-gardens-master-plan-unveiled/18933993/

City Council votes to begin plan to renovate Riverfront Park area

Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Planlayout1014The Louisiana City Council voted Monday Nov. 10 to begin developing the city’s riverfront with a new park and an eye on future development.
The Bicentennial Riverfront Commission presented the plan for a long walking path, covered picnic tables, a pet area and landscaping for the area south of the current parking lot to Noix Creek.
The commission estimated the plan will cost $83,000, to be funded by local clubs and organizations. In addition, the Mark Twain Regional Center of Governments has agreed to help the city pursue a grant for the walking trail.
The council voted 7-0 to being phase one of the project, which includes land acquisition and design. Council member Neil Darnell was absent.
There have been several plans to improve the riverfront, dating back to 1949, according to commission member and city councilman Jeff Guay, but they failed to produce much.
The commission of Guay, Cindy Blaylock, Bruce McKenna, Dottie Murray, Jerry Smith, April Fronick, Jon Moran, Brett Bolton and Charlie Perkins, “did their homework,” Guay said. “This is no pipe dream.”
The main hang up for phase one is resolving who owns all the properties, according to Moran. However, early investigation indicates most of it is under the city’s control. The strip of land is 1,880 feet long and 110 to 75 feet wide, Moran said.
The largest chunk of land to be purchased is the section from just past Maryland Street south to Noix Creek which appears to be owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway, commission members said in their report.
BNSF has indicated to the city it is pondering the closure of the South Carolina railroad crossing into riverfront park. That could allow the city to get the BNSF land in exchange for the city’s endorsement of the closure.
BNSF officials do not need the city’s approval to close the crossing and railroad firms have been trying to shut down crossings across the country as a cost-saving measure, commission members said.
“We all have a stake in this proposal,” Murray said. “We can do this as long as we work together with trust and honesty.”
The project will “move our community forward and deliver something they have been asking for, for years, improvements and better use of our most valuable asset…the riverfront,” Perkins said.

Commission members hope the first phase of the plan will be completed in 2018.
Phase two of the project could be started in 2017 with an eye on the city’s bicentennial in 2018, according to the commission’s report. Potential ideas include retail buildings, a conference center and an amphitheater.

Article source: http://www.louisianapressjournal.com/?p=15265

Montgomery holds open house for dealership sites

With all plans on the table, Montgomery is collecting more ideas for what could be done with two old dealership sites.

The city held an open house Nov. 11 for the Southern Gateway Redevelopment project.

Montgomery bought the old Chevrolet and Ford dealership sites earlier this year. The city combined the sites and a small piece of land from Hamilton County making the site 11.6 acres in total.

City Planner Tracy Roblero said the city has no plans in place for the sites and everything is still on the table. The example site plans that were on display during the open house were plans the city has received about the site dating back to 2006.

Most plans had a mixture of office, retail and residential developments on the site. Some had large parking areas and one had plans for an above-ground and underground parking facility.

“This shows what could be done. Part of the goal is to increase the tax base for the community,” Councilman Craig Margolis told a group.

The city provided note cards for residents and developers to write down what they would most like to see on the site. The city also had blank site maps for visitors to sketch out what they would like to see.

Robelro said the city is looking into creating an access road from the sites to Cross Country Highway.

“(The Ohio Department of Transportation) has given us a luke-warm no,” Roblero said, adding traffic is one of the city’s main concerns for the project.

The city accepted a bid from Evans Landscaping on Nov. 5 to demolish the Chevy dealership building for $62,800. City Manager Wayne Davis said the building could be demolished by the end of the year, but the contract says it must be down by Feb. 28.

The city applied for a $100,000 Community Block Development Grant from Hamilton County to demolish the Ford dealership building.

The city bought the Ford site for $2.8 million and the Chevy site for $2.8 million on bonds, which includes the cost of demolition and site preparations.

Davis said the open house had a good turnout with most of the visitors being developers.

Your turn

What kind of development would you like to see at Montgomery’s Southern Gateway? Comment below, and send your ideas to rmaloney@communitypress.com.

Want to know more about what is happening in Montgomery? Follow Marika Lee on Twitter: @ReporterMarika

Your turn

What kind of development would you like to see at Montgomery’s Southern Gateway? Comment below, and send your ideas to rmaloney@communitypress.com.

Article source: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/montgomery/2014/11/12/montgomery-holds-open-house-dealership-sites/18921879/

What’s Changing California’s Landscape? Cash for Grass

The drought is changing California’s landscape in some unexpected ways.

Not only is it drying up lakes, turning streams to a trickle and causing the land to sink, it’s weaning Californians off lush, water-guzzling lawns.

Julio Lopez owns and runs Cadre Landscaping in the Southern California city of Glendale.

The 54-year-old Lopez said he’s been so swamped with work lately, he’s unable to handle the dozens of calls he gets from homeowners wanting to remove their current lawns and put in drought-resistant ones.

“Most of my business is commercial real estate like banks so I’m too busy to help them out,” said Lopez, who employs nine people.

“But we’ve never seen this amount of phone calls since the rebate program began,” he said.

The program Lopez referred to is known as Cash for Grass, a rebate that property owners get for changing their lawns to drought-resistant foliage as the state enters its fourth year of severe drought.

The rebates to replace water-intensive lawns with turf grass started in 2009 in California.

But two recent developments have made them more popular than ever: an increase in the amount of the rebate—in some cases more than $3 a square foot—and having the rebates be tax free.

“We took a survey this spring of our clients, and 77 percent of them said they want different landscaping because of the drought,” said Chuck Carr, president of the California Landscaping Contractors Association (CLCA).

“There’s a huge demand to do this because of the rebates,” Carr added.

Rebate up to $3.75 per square foot

It’s estimated that a three-bedroom house in California uses 174,000 gallons of water a year.

And according to the California Home Building Foundation, 57 percent of that amount is used for landscaping, though analysts such as Carr said that figure is too high.

To get homeowners and commercial properties to switch to more native and drought-resistant landscaping and use less water, many water districts throughout California have been paying for the rebates through their own revenues.

The rebate amount has been as low as 50 cents a square foot. But districts have been raising them as the drought has worsened.

The Los Angeles Water District just increased their rebate from $3 a square foot to $3.75.

Another boost to the program came in September when a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown made the rebates tax free.

But even before the rebates escaped the IRS, homeowners were jumping on board.

According to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWDSC), lawn removal in the Los Angeles area went from 99,000 square feet last January to 2.5 million removed by July.

“We’ve been super busy because of the rebate program,” said Becky Mineo of Chatsworth Garden Nursery and Landscaping in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth.

“People are saving water by doing this, and it looks nice,” she added.

Business cuts back

Business cut backsCalifornia’s landscaping is a $25 billion industry, according to the most recent statistics from the California Landscape Contractors Association.

The industry employs around 169,942 individuals and has a total employment impact of 257,650 jobs.

And, for now at least, the rebate program is giving a boost to landscapers, said Bob Muir, a program manager for the MWDSC.

“The transition toward climate-appropriate landscapes is creating new market opportunities for the landscape industry,” Muir said in an email to CNBC.com.

“These landscapes are not maintenance-free, and consumers that invest in removing lawn and changing their landscapes need plant care, irrigation and other maintenance services,” he added.

But those in the industry say it has limits.

“We just got a contract to do a city project for the next two years, but the drought would be hurting us if we didn’t have that,” said Joyce Mabar of S.B. Landscaping in Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

“Some landscapers are suffering because of the cutback in maintenance, and many are having to cut prices because of that,” Mabar added. “It’s getting even more competitive to be a landscaper as the drought goes on.”

And there are some caveats on the rebates themselves, said CLCA’s Carr.

“Every water district doesn’t have the money to do this, and the rebates won’t cover the whole cost of removing and replacing your lawns,” he said.

Educate people on benefits

Educate people on benefitsNot everyone in California needed a rebate to make their landscape more drought resistant.

Susan Gottlieb and her husband live in Beverly Hills. She made their nearly one acre of land drought resistant in the 1990s after seeing a nearby lake and water source dry up.

“I don’t have a lawn,” said Gottlieb, who is active in the California Native Plant Society. “I have shrubs and small plants that are native to the area.”

Gottlieb said she’s working on her neighbors to do the same and is having some success on getting them to change their ideas of landscaping. “A person I know called me one day to say she’s taking her lawn out. I think the idea is catching on with a lot of people,” she said.

But whether the recent push to less water-intensive landscaping takes hold beyond the current drought is not a given, said CLCA’s Carr.

“People have short-term memories,” he said. “They often revert back to old ways. All we can do is educate them on the benefits of this going forward.”

Article source: http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/california-drought/whats-changing-californias-landscape-cash-grass-n247096

Attracting winter birds to your garden

The Dixie Garden Club presents Marilyn Keith Davis of Red Cliffs Audubon who will present a program on landscaping to attract birds in winter. The program is scheduled for Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 S. Dixie Dr., St George and will include information about how your landscapes and gardens can attract birds, identifying our common, rare and any new species in southern Utah, bird feeders, bird songs, and the role of raptors in keeping bird life healthy.

All attendees will also take home a pinecone birdfeeder they have created. Materials will be supplied by the Dixie Garden Club. The meeting is open to the public, free of charge. All those with an interest in horticulture are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Marilyn and Keith Davis love being in St. George because of the wonderful outdoor opportunities available most of the 365 days each year. Their desire is to teach others to enjoy being outdoors and to get acquainted with some of the 375 bird species who either pass through or live in southern Utah. They have been active in the Red Cliffs Audubon, Winter Bird Festival, Annual Christmas Bird Counts, teaching school classes for kids, ICL classes at Dixie State University for adults, and writing a weekly column “Artists and Birds” in the Senior Sampler Newspaper.

Marilyn (Milne) is a native of St George and Keith’s family (Dennett) settled Springdale and Rockville. They moved back to southern Utah in 1977, living in Hurricane, Springdale and St George.

Marilyn worked for the federal government at Zion National Park and the Arizona Strip BLM. Keith worked for the US Postal Service.

The Dixie Garden Club was established more than 20 years ago with the purpose of assisting and cooperating with city and county sponsored beautification projects, to invite speakers on horticulture related topics, to share knowledge and exchange seeds and plantings with other members and to encourage water conservation. “Cherish the past, cultivate the future,” is the theme for the 2014-15 season of the Dixie Garden Club. Meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month from September through June.

Further information regarding the Dixie Garden Club may be obtained by contacting club president, Rhonda Bowcut at (435) 674-2293 or gbowcut@msn.com or publicity chair Marcia Burchstead at (435) 275-7818 or mburchstead@cnturylink.net.

Article source: http://www.thespectrum.com/story/life/outdoors/2014/11/12/attracting-winter-birds-garden/18942555/

New storm gardens in Shadle neighborhood will help protect Spokane River

click to enlarge

  • The Lands Council
  • Crews work to install the three adjacent storm gardens along West Garland in the Shadle neighborhood.

A new stormwater management project being installed this week in the Shadle Park neighborhood of North Spokane is designed to protect the Spokane River from harmful pollutants that would eventually discharge into its waters.

About a year ago, the City of Spokane contracted with the Lands Council to find homeowners in the neighborhood who would allow storm gardens to be installed in the right-of-way strip in front of their homes, between the sidewalk and the curb. The Spokane-based environmental protection nonprofit is also overseeing the construction of the filtration gardens, and is partnering with many local businesses who’ve donated time and supplies toward the effort. Partners in the project include Clearwater Summit Group, Wittkopf Landscaping, Biochar Supreme, Farm Power and the engineering film AHBL.

The three low-impact gardens are being installed along West Garland Avenue, between Belt and Ash streets, in front of three adjacent homes. Work on the gardens that began last Wednesday is expected to wrap up by the end of this week.

Lands Council watershed program director Amanda Parrish says the filtration gardens use biochar mixed into the soil, which traps pollutants as stormwater runoff drains into the ground. Biochar is basically a form of charcoal, and has a high absorption capacity, therefore helping prevent oils and PCBs from draining into the river.

In parts of the city like the Shadle area, where the city sewer system carries a combination of stormwater and sewage waste in the same pipe, mitigating the amount of stormwater going into the shared system can prevent what are called combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges. During heavy storms, the city’s wastewater treatment facility can be overloaded, so that combined wastewater instead drains directly into the river, untreated.

The Lands Council was asked to help with the $30,000 storm garden project as part of the city’s Integrated Clean Water Plan, Parrish says. This particular project in Shadle is serving as a pilot, and the Lands Council will continue to manage the gardens for the three years. Its staff will also test the incoming stormwater to measure the amount and types of pollutants present, and again after the water has been filtered through the engineered soil mix to determine its effectiveness.

“This is a pilot project, and since the city adopted its Integrated Clean Water Plan, it’s looking at as many methods as possible to make the river cleaner, faster,” Parrish explains.

The project in Shadle is similar in scope to the drainage swales on the lower South Hill along South Lincoln Street, but this new project required less construction.

Native, low-maintenance plants are being planted in the gardens after the soil mix has been filled. Parrish says the plants also help to remove excess nitrogen and phosphorus found in the stormwater.

While it’s up to the city if more projects like this will be funded in the future, Parrish says the Lands Council is an obvious advocate for “green infrastructure” projects which help mitigate our impact on the river and the surrounding environment.

Article source: http://www.inlander.com/Bloglander/archives/2014/11/11/new-storm-gardens-in-shadle-neighborhood-will-help-protect-spokane-river

New Burger King’s sign is no Whopper

A new Burger King, which includes bicycle racks, rain gardens and a sidewalk, is fronted by what appears to be the smallest sign along the five-mile-long McGalliard Road commercial corridor.

“I love it,” said customer Jama Spurgeon, a special needs aide at Muncie Community Schools. “Burger King is setting the example. I do think other businesses need to follow this pattern. It’s a nice sign; it’s just short.”

The restaurant is one of the first buildings to be constructed on McGalliard since the city banned pole signs on commercial corridors and enacted other development standards regulating facades; requiring new buildings to be located closer to the street, thus forcing parking to the side or rear; and better landscaping.

Burger King in May asked for but was denied a zoning variance that would have allowed it to keep an existing, 24-feet-tall pole sign when it demolished the restaurant near the entrance to Muncie Mall. That sign had been there for 34 years.

The new, $18,249, 5-feet-diameter sign, which sits atop a stacked-stone wall capped with limestone, stands only 8 feet tall. It includes a small, electronic message board

McGalliard is lined with pole signs advertising drug stores, auto parts, nails, banks, pizza, jewelry, vitamins, health food, fast food, sex toys and much more.

“The sign is definitely prettier than the others,” said Burger King customer Grace Miller, a Ball State University student. “But you could miss it.”

She and fellow student Alexis McKenzie saw the restaurant when they stopped at a tanning salon next door. “I like the sign,” McKenzie said, noting it displays not only food specials but also the time and temperature.

The building’s facade includes awnings, brown brick, black siding and red tiles around the entrances. Yews, spruce, rose bushes, catmint, daylilies, boxwoods, sedum, trees and other landscaping remain to be installed.

The parking lot drains into rain gardens designed to absorb storm water runoff and trap cigarette butts, oil and other pollutants that would otherwise be carried by sewers into waterways like the White River.

Businesses with existing pole signs along McGalliard have grandfather rights that exempt them from the new development rules. Those signs will only come down if a grandfathered business expands or is torn down and replaced like the Burger King.

“It will take a while, but it has to start somewhere,” said Marta Moody, director of the city-county plan commission. “I think the sign looks great, the site looks great and once the landscaping grows in, it will obviously be the best-looking Burger King in town. It’s a very attractive addition.”

The restaurant’s owner, Steve Dankert, from Kokomo, couldn’t be reached for comment. He complained to the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) that his new ground sign would put him at a competitive disadvantage because nearby Wendy’s and McDonald’s stores have pole signs.

Kathryn Kennison, a member of the BZA, on Wednesday had this to say about the new Burger King sign:

“McGalliard is so junked up with those tall pole signs, the contrast between something more colorful and attractive, albeit lower, is likely to attract more notice and more positive reactions from passersby, wouldn’t you think?”

For years, the public has been demanding tighter controls over development along Muncie’s commercial corridors. While the government here has been slow to respond, other cities, including Bloomington, Fishers and Noblesville, acted long ago.

“Ours is mostly an aesthetic argument,” Patrick Shay, development review manager for the Bloomington Planning Department, told The Star Press last year. “We do not believe signage should aesthetically be the main part of a corridor. Architecture is what we look for, with buildings forward (on lots).”

Bloomington’s policy is that the purpose of business signs is “to let you know you’re at the right place, not to pull people in from farther distances,” Shay said.

Contact Seth Slabaugh at (765) 213-5834.

Article source: http://www.thestarpress.com/story/news/local/2014/11/12/new-burger-kings-sign-whopper/18936979/