by Wesley Ratko

A proposed sign for a new nail salon on the former site of TLA Video in the mini-mall at 7630 Germantown Ave. was presented to the Chestnut Hill Community Association’s Development Review Committee.

Owners of New Happy Nail Inc. proposed an eternally-lit sign made of plastic with an aluminum frame for its shop in the mall, currently occupied by a dry cleaner and the Yu Hsiang Garden Chinese restaurant.

CHCA Community Manager Celeste Hardester spoke on behalf of New Happy Nail applicant Yusheng Ke, who, according to Hardester, knows very little English. Ke has been helped in this process by Vincent Lee, owner of Yu Hsiang Garden. Hardester said Lee suggested that an awning, instead of a sign, be used over the storefront instead of a sign.

DRC co-chair Greg Woodring disagreed with the awning concept. He said that the shopping center, which dates from the 1980s, once had a sign standard controlled by the landlord. He suggested that the applicants seek out this original sign standard and present it with their proposed sign to the CHCA’s Aesthetics Committee for review and comment.

“I think it could use some help,” Woodring said.

Patricia Cove, representing the Historical District Advisory Committee, said the original landlord of the shopping center had negotiated for a “billboard, pylon, register-type sign” in exchange for his agreeing to their guidelines for any new signage that went on the building. That pylon sign was removed when TLA left the property.

“I really see this as a major issue that could affect another business that could come in there down the line,” she added.

Cove recommended that a temporary banner sign be used to allow the business to open until an acceptable design for something permanent can be settled on.

Woodring agreed. He discouraged the use of an awning and expressed his belief that the pylon sign be returned to make it easier for passers-by to see the businesses in the shopping center. Cove suggested contacting the current owner of the site to encourage better management of the sign standards.

Magarity site project

DRC co-chair Woodring gave an update on the continuing discussions between Bowman Properties and the near-neighbors working group. He announced that Bowman has not yet submitted its request to change the zoning on the site to city council, and that progress on the Magarity Ford project at 8200 Germantown Avenue was now “in a holding pattern.”

Woodring described the meetings (between 10 and 15 of them since discussions began) as “open and progressive.” Woodring said that the working group’s issues with the project have been put into writing with reports of their meetings provided to Bowman.

Based on these discussions, the Bowman team is now restructuring their plans. The working group was going to push for another meeting but has decided to wait until Bowman produces another iteration of their plans.

“I think the delay is a positive sign,” Woodring said. He said he hoped that many good things would come out of it.

The committee asked Bowman to produce a three-dimensional model of the building, but that hasn’t yet materialized.

“They need to stick to their program,” Woodring said, meaning that the number of square feet initially proposed for residential, retail, and the Fresh Market grocery store could not be changed or reduced.

Woodring added that Bowman was unlikely to appear before the CHCA board until at least December, at which time they may present something new to consider.

Chestnut Hill Baptist Church

Sam Piotrowski, of the Chestnut Hill Baptist Church, sought advice from the DRC regarding replacement of the church windows.

“We want to keep the historic character of the church,” Piotrowski told the committee. Woodring suggested that they speak with the Land Use Planning and Zoning Committee and the Chestnut Hill Historical Society for advice.

Piotrowski said the church was not planning to install stained glass, but would be interested in energy-efficient windows. He also stated that the church would prefer that the new windows be operable.