Suburban Hospital signage update – Sign Review Board hearing results

Dear Neighbors,

The May 11 Sign Review Board (continuance) hearing went very well, with HTCA board member Jonna Stoycos speaking on behalf of our community. Jonna had prepared – for the second time – an excellent statement and package of materials so the Sign Review Board could fully understand the situation.

The upshot of the two hearings is as follows:

1. There will be no large (two-story, highway billboard size), illuminated rooftop sign on SH;

2. The SH sign on the new addition will not be illuminated;

3. The three illuminated signs set into the low brick site-walls — one at McKinley and Old Georgetown Rd, and two at the main hospital entrance at the (old) Lincoln St. and Old Georgetown Rd. — will be illuminated with a warmer, softer light;

4. The Sign Board did not grant the variance for the large, illuminated garage sign, extracting it from the sign package, and suggesting that SH omit it or come up with some other solution;

5. The blue illuminated “Suburban Hospital” sign beneath the helipad will be removed;

6. The blue illuminated “Suburban Hospital” sign at the McKinley Street entrance will remain but will not be illuminated.

We are very grateful to HTCA board members Jonna Stoykos and Lori Fish Bard, who attended the hearing, and neighbors Nancy Choy, Eric Guille, Jon Marsh, Sheila O’Neill and Penny Fovall, who also attended. The Sign Board chair commented on the presence of so many neighbors. There was behind-the-scenes support (including photos of Johns Hopkins-Baltimore signage and signage at other hospitals) from Howard Sokolove, Marc Ghany and myself. As usual, Norman Knopf provided crucial and excellent guidance on how to proceed.

The Sign Review Board’s requirement at the first hearing that SH meet with representatives from HTCA allowed a discussion of the signage. While this meeting was quite useful, SH submitted its revised proposal prior to meeting with us a second time. Nonetheless, we were able to make our case a second time before the Sign Review Board, and they continued to doubt the appropriateness and need for a large, illuminated wall sign on the garage – thus removing it from the SH signage package. SH may reapply for approval of a variance for a different type of sign if they so choose.

We are very pleased with the result and feel that in large part, the changes agreed to are consonant with Old Georgetown Rd’s character (and designation in the Montgomery County master plan) as a green corridor, in that no large, illuminated wall or rooftop signage was approved. The layering of trees and bushes to be planted in the first planting season after the garage is completed – as required by the 2010 Board of Appeals ruling between SH and HTCA – should substantially improve the appearance.

Please donate generously to the HTCA legal fund; we have a target of raising $2,000 in the month. We are grateful to the neighbors who have contributed over the past two years (and some extremely generously). Contributions may be made at or by check (payable to HTCA) to the treasurer of HTCA, Stephen Brown, 5504 Hoover St., Bethesda, 20817

Also, please join HTCA or renew your HTCA membership at or by check to HTCA Treasurer Stephen Brown. Thank you!

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