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A 40-foot tall billboard at the corner of 79th and Fall Creek Road has neighbors and business owners outraged near Geist Reservoir.

The Fall Creek Road and 79th Street intersection has been the iconic gateway to Geist Reservoir for years. Now, our gateway has a 40-foot tall eyesore on the south side of the CVS Pharmacy. Residents and businesses alike are upset.

“It’s a little disappointing how quickly an advertising billboard gets approved for the area and not a sidewalk which is actually needed,” said Josh McNair, a Feather Cove 1 resident and organizer of the “Boycott the Billboard at 79th and Fall Creek” Facebook page which had over 700 likes in just 5 days.

Other locals are wanting to file petitions, stage protests and even try to rent the billboard with a message saying “Please Take this Eyesore Down!”

Area residents, looking for an explanation, turned to elected officials like Indianapolis City Councillor Ginny Cain. She fielded several phone calls and complaints and turned to the City of Indianapolis for an explanation. In an email, Cain expressed disgust with the billboard saying “PLEASE get this taken down.”

However, the property owned by Hyde Realty Associates is zoned C3 which, according to Indianapolis zoning ordinances, gives them a free pass on erecting such a sign. The email response Cain received from Maury Plambeck, Policy Director with the City of Indianapolis explains how the zoning was approved:

Councilor,

Below is a summary of the issues regarding the advertising sign you have asked about. After further staff research, the submittal appears to have met all development standards in the Sign Regulations, as approved. When all development standards are met, the City must grant the permit. When a sign (or any use) is permitted by right (no variance needed), there is no notification of neighborhoods or adjacent property owners required. If you have any questions, let me know. You can also contact Brandon Dickinson at DCE, brandon.dickinson@indy.gov, 327-5163, if you have any questions on the permit.

Summary of SGN12-01214, issues on 12/18/13.

  • C3 zoning allows for 378 square feet advertising sign – applicant proposed 378 square feet (10.5’ x 36’). 40’ in height is allowed – applicant proposed 40’
  • The location has 70’ proposed ROW from Center Line + 10’ setback required – applicant proposed 82’ from Center Line
  • Nearest point sign is allowed to a Protected district is 300 linear feet – applicant proposed nearest point to Protected district at 306 linear feet (to west of proposed sign location).
  • Nearest point sign is allowed to an existing advertising sign is 1000 linear feet – applicant proposed 1000+ linear feet

Initially there were some concerns regarding zoning petition commitments, but after review by the DMD Current Planning Staff, it was determined that none of the commitments associated with the rezone or approval were applicable to the subject property. The commitments from 81-Z-147 expired, and the legal description filed with 90-AP-139 did not include the subject parcel.

A DCE Inspector visited the site last week when the calls started filtering in. It appears as though the sign has been installed as it was approved.

One glimmer of hope still lies with CVS Pharmacy, the tenant of Hyde Realty Associates. CVS is the only other party that contractually has a beef with this billboard. In a phone interview with Mike Murphy, District Manager of CVS in Indianapolis, he expressed that CVS is just as upset as the residents are that their landlord erected this billboard. Their corporate attorneys are working through the lease agreement to come to an amicable resolution.

“We want it gone, too,” said Murphy.

He encouraged residents to call the CVS Customer Service line (1-800-SHOP-CVS) and lodge their complaints. Even though they are not responsible, their attorneys can use the calls as leverage with Hyde Realty Associates.

Jeffrey Lee purchased the rights to the billboard and is actively trying to sell the billboard advertising space. His phone number is on the billboard 317-270-8383.

In the meantime, the yellow and black “Advertise Here” sign looms over the busy intersection, poking each resident in the eye that drives by every day as they go to and from the Geist area. As this continues to develop, follow the Facebook page or atGeist.com for more updates.

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