POCONO PINES (Tobyhanna Township)– In order to approve a non-conforming sign for Kalahari Resorts’ Gorilla Grove attraction, the Tobyhanna Zoning Hearing Board was willing to measure the spaces between the letters of the massive new banner proposed by the resort and conference center.
The sign does not conform with three of the four limitations in the township zoning ordinance. Under the ordinance, the maximum sign height is two feet. Kalahari wants theirs to be five feet high. The township ordinance limits its length to half the building length. The 5×58 foot billboard is more than 96% of the 60-foot building length. Finally, local rules prohibit signs placed higher than the roofline. Gorilla Grove’s poster will go on top of the building.
Turned down by the township zoning office, Kalahari petitioned the Zoning Hearing Board for a waiver. At the public hearing, the resort presented a letter from a Pocono Manor representative stating the neighboring property owner had no objection to the request.
Board members expressed reluctance at creating a precedent by granting approval to a sign so far out of compliance with local rules. To avoid the problem, they didn’t call it a sign. Instead, they decided to treat it as an extension of the gorilla mural painted on the front face of the building. Height and length limits do not apply to murals.
The sign contains only words – “Mini Golf Zip Lines Rope Courses” – with no other drawings or stand-alone design, just solid color backgrounds to the letters. Under the zoning ordinance, words are limited to a certain percentage of the overall design. Board members said they were willing to measure the spaces between the letters in order to reduce the word area on the
sign mural. At the end of the day, that exercise wasn’t needed as the print coverage was close enough to the limit to be acceptable.
To avoid the roofline issue, the board suggested that the resort place a facade atop at least three-quarters of the building, which would then be treated as the roofline. Kalahari agreed.
Prior to unanimously approving the modified “mural” application, the board did note that there were no residential or other businesses in the vicinity of Gorilla Grove, which is entirely on the Kalahari Resorts property.
The Zoning Hearing Board meets only as necessary, after public notice, to hear appeals from zoning application denials by the township zoning officer. Members of the board are Denis Hatch, Chair, William R. Van Gilder, Vice-Chair, John Briggs, John Henry, and Albert L. Rinehimer, III.