FLINT TWP. — Mo Pete’s Sports Retreat at Genesee Valley Center shopping mall, received approval for its six-foot, LEDlit sign, designed to be seen from the parking lot, to maximize visibility.
It is located toward the back of the mall’s Outdoor Village corridor which is fronted by Barnes & Noble Bookstore and Bar Louie restaurant.
At its October 18 meeting the township Zoning Board of Appeals turned down a request for a sign variance to allow Mo Pete’s to have a 72-inch-tall sign- which is six times larger than the 12-inches allowed by ordinance. But the petitioner Nik Gjonaj, representing local basketball great, Morris Peterson and MVN LLC, returned on October 25 for a reconsideration hearing. He also came prepared with a compromise proposal to reduce the sign to a four-foot height and also to tone down the LED lighting which some board members objected to as being too bright and carnival-like.
But Ed White, board vice chair, had a change of heart since the first meeting when he vote against the sign, resulting in a 2-2 tie. One board member was absent then.
The full five-member board attended last week’s meeting and immediately voted 4-1 to rescind the original vote. White, who asked for the reconsideration hearing, said he had taken time to visit the site and no longer objected to the larger sign or the lights.
Roger Powell, board chairman, and the sole hold-out objecting to the sign, said he would be favorable towards a two-foot sign – which still would be twice the size allowed by ordinance.
After a back-and-forth squabble over the provisions of Roberts Rule for Order, board member Larry Ford, who voted in favor the first time around, called for the question.
Frank Kasle, who was not present at the first meeting, challenged a decision to proceed to the vote without more discussion. Given time to comment, he asked where Mo Pete’s would be located and if a 12-foot-sign would be visible from the parking lot
Gjonaj responded that visibility is the whole point of the large sign. The hospitality industry is different from retail, he said, adding that he has 20-plus years of experience in the hospitality business and has opened at least a dozen restaurants.
“We are investing a significant amount of capital, “he said. “To go in line with our image and concept that we have created, we feel it is a beautiful sign”
The sign is called a blade sign because it projects from the building and is large enough to be visible from the distant parking lot. Gjonaj they will be competing for customers with Bar Loui and Logan’s.
“We want to position ourselves for success,’’ he said.
White insisted on sticking to Gjonaj’s original variance request instead of considering the amended four-foot request.
Gjonaj said given a choice he would prefer to have the six-foot sign but proposed the four-foot sign as a compromise. With the business preparing to open, after months of construction delays, the important thing was to get the sign approved and installed, he said.
Board member Val Shaheen noted that the board could consider the four-foot sign if the vote for the six-foot sign failed. But there was no need. It was approved in a four to one vote, with Powell remaining the sole objector.
Ford thanked Gjonaj for his investment in the community and welcomed him as a neighbor.
According to a notice on the mall website, Mo Pete’s is now open.