After nearly five hours of testimony and deliberation, McDonald’s officials did not get permission for the large sign they wanted to erect for their restaurant on Route 1 in Elkridge.
On July 12, the Board of Appeals denied request for the 40-foot freestanding sign it sought approval to build at 6225 Washington Boulevard.
McDonald's claimed need for the sign because cars traveling northbound on Route 1 cannot see the business due to topography, power lines and trees (including one tree that the neighboring planted in front of the current McDonald's sign).
“There is a less intrusive way potentially of them dealing with the problem,” said James Walsh, one of five members of the board. Walsh voted against the sign.
During a four-hour , Elkridge residents suggested a monument sign, or one that is affixed to the ground and close to the curb, as an alternative.
Residents said this type of sign could provide the visibility McDonald’s was seeking without violating the streetscape guidelines established by the Route 1 Manual, a document created in 2004 to help in revitalizing the aging Route 1 corridor in part by reducing “visual clutter.”
Although McDonald’s testified last week that a monument sign would not be visible to northbound traffic on Route 1, board members noted that the franchise did not present evidence supporting its claim.
Still, the board sympathized with the business’ visibility challenges.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by the McDonald’s and blown right past it,” said board member James Howard, who said he passes by the fast food restaurant in Elkridge once a month.
Howard voted to approve the 40-foot sign.
“I don’t think [a monument sign] would be visible,” he explained. “That said, at 40 feet, when the trees bloom, that sign wouldn’t be visible either.”
In the end, board members voted 3-2 to deny the request.
McDonald’s has 30 days to decide whether to appeal the decision, taking it up with the Circuit Court of Howard County.