Hotel sign, church get variances

HOUGHTON — The Houghton Zoning Board of Appeals approved variances for two signs Wednesday.

New hotel The Vault, at 600 Shelden Ave., received variances for sign size and placement. The sign will get 43 square feet per side, versus the 20 permitted by city ordinance. The top of the sign will also be allowed at 35 feet above the sidewalk, versus the 18 permitted by ordinance.

The 14-foot-high sign would span portions of the building’s second and third stories, as shown by a photo rendering provided at the meeting.

“It’s kind of a challenging place to catch people’s attention on this side of the block,” said building owner Jonathan Julien.

He also showed the board a photo of the building in its time as the Houghton National Bank, which had an even larger sign.

The sign evokes the historic nature, spelling “VAULT” in large descending Art Deco lettering.

The width is 37 inches, including the 24-inch sign and separation from the wall. The separation from the wall gives it a cleaner, classier look, said Joe Schwenk of Industrial Graphics.

“We like to do things that look clean and super-tasteful,” he said. “If it was obnoxious, I wouldn’t be here.”

St. Ignatius Church, at 305 Portage St., received rear-yard and side-yard setback variances to construct a Faith Formation Center, located within a single-family residential district. The building also got a side-yard variance from the east portion of the building to the lot line. The requirement side yard is 10 feet. The building would extend to within a foot of the right-of-way line.

The 15 feet from the face of the wall to the property line is below the 30-foot variance normally required by ordinance. However, that is already allowed since other structures on their block are within the setback, City Manager Eric Waara said.