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 HTCA.net 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 HTCA.net or by check to HTCA Treasurer Stephen Brown. Thank you!

SH Variance Request for 11 out of 31 new signs

Dear Neighbors,

Here’s an update on the Sign Review Board process, etc….

The Sign Review Board asked for a continuance at the April 12 hearing, and this hearing will be held at the Stella B. Werner County Council Bldg., lower level auditorium, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville MD 20850, on Thursday, May 11, at 8:30 a.m.  We hope you can attend, and if you would like to carpool, please contact Kate Stern (301-785-0195, sternkate@comcast.net), Jonna Stoycos (240-888-3161, jonnastoycos@gmail.com), or any HTCA board member. 

Because of the very short time-frame, we ask that you express your views about the signage by phone, letter, or email to the HTCA Board as soon as possible, so we may convey these views.  Following the notice last week on the HTCA listservs, a number of neighbors made comments, but we welcome more input.  Please call or email Lorraine Driscoll, Jonna Stoycos, Kate Stern, or any HTCA Board member with your comments.

Background info: As mentioned last week, the HTCA Board learned March 28, 2017, that Suburban Hospital had applied for variances on 11 of its proposed 31 exterior signs, and that this would be considered at a Sign Review Board hearing on April 12, 2017.

Information about the proposed sign variances was scanty and inadequate, and HTCA board member Jonna Stoycos immediately requested more detailed information, which was provided.  With many neighbors away and busy during the school holiday Spring Break, and with the very short notice about this development, and because the signage and proposed variances had not been discussed in any recent meetings between the neighborhood and SH—meetings mandated by the Board of Appeals 2010 ruling in order to keep the community informed during the construction period—we requested a postponement.

SH was unwilling to postpone the hearing, and the county elected officials and departments we contacted were unable to arrange postponement either, stating that we could only request this at the hearing itself.  On April 12, five of us attended the hearing, but our request for postponement was denied.  Suburban Hospital made its presentation to the Sign Review Board—a citizen board under the county’s Department of Permitting Services—and then we were able to voice our concerns in a presentation.

The Sign Review Board indicated to the hospital that the two largest wall signs for which it had requested approval through variances were unnecessary and were certainly far too large; lighting specifications and examples needed to be provided for all signs, including the one large sign proposed for the entrance at the new addition; the number of signs would need to be addressed (too many); and the sign package needed to include the existing signs and their impact. The hospital requested a partial approval of some of the signs, but the Sign Review Board wanted to see the entire package together, and only after Suburban Hospital and HTCA held meaningful and productive conversations/meetings regarding the signage package. The Sign Review Board directed the hospital to resubmit its entire signage package at the next Sign Review Board hearing on the 11th of May, 8:30 a.m.

We were gratified that some of our concerns were shared by the Sign Review Board, and that their recommendations to the hospital for revising the sign package and variances application were consonant with what we had presented.  We were also gratified that the Sign Review Board directed that the hospital must discuss in a meaningful way its application for variances, taking into account our neighborhood concerns.

Finally, we have posted the pdfs of the signage proposal by SH on htca.net , though we expect Suburban Hospital to modify them following last week’s hearing and our meeting(s) with them.  Our goal is that the hospital have appropriate identifying and way-finding signage, but that it take into account the Montgomery County Master Plan’s designation of Old Georgetown Road as a green corridor, the County code regarding the size, placement, number, and illumination of signs, and the hospital’s location within a residential neighborhood.

Triangle Garden Spring Clean-Up

TRIANGLE GARDEN SPRING CLEAN-UP is April 22, 9-12; raindate is April 29.

Digital HTCA

· HTCA Web site – htca.net

· HTCA Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HuntingtonTerraceMD

· Nextdoor Huntington Terrace (registration required) – huntingtonterrace.nextdoor.com/news_feed/

· To subscribe to our official announcements-only HTCAnet email list, please visit the Web site and look for email lists page.

· To subscribe to HT Exchange, our community discussion email group, email Stu Borman at sab2d47@yahoo.com

HTCA Board of Directors

· Lorraine Driscoll — President, (lorrainedris@gmail.com), 8507 Garfield St.

· Stephen Brown — Treasurer, (sbr286@gmail.com), 5504 Hoover St.

· Kate Stern – Vice President, (sternkate@comcast.net), 5513 McKinley St.

· Lori Fish Bard — (lolabard@comcast.net), 5505 Lincoln St.

· Marc Ghany         •   Jonna Stoycos         •   Srini Mirmira

Sign Review Board Hearing

Dear Neighbors,

On March 28, HTCA received a notice from Suburban Hospital that the Sign Review Board would hold a hearing on Wednesday, April 12, at 8:30 a.m., about its application for 11 variances on exterior signage at the hospital, part of a package of 31 exterior signs.  Three of these proposed signs are so-called roof-top signs (high up on the current SH building, the addition, and the parking garage) and are proposed to be quite large and illuminated.  Others facing Southwick and McKinley Street neighbors’ homes may be larger than necessary. These 11 signs are larger than commonly permitted, which is why they must be approved by the Sign Review Board.

The hearing will take place at the Stella B. Werner County Council Bldg., First Floor Auditorium, 100 Maryland Ave., Rockville MD 20850, on Wed., April 12, 8:30 a.m. We hope you can attend.

The Board of Appeals 2010 ruling requires that Suburban Hospital hold quarterly Community Liaison (CLC) meetings with the HT neighborhood to keep us informed during the expansion of the hospital. However, Suburban did not raise this matter at either of the two most recent meetings (Jan. 18, 2017 or March 15, 2017).  The information about the 11 variances provided on March 28 was scanty, so HTCA board member Jonna Stoycos requested more detailed information, which was sent.  HTCA’s request of Suburban Hospital to postpone the hearing, given the lack of notice and discussion about this at the meetings Suburban Hospital is required to hold with the community, has so far not been successful.

If you would like a ride to the hearing or more information about this matter before the hearing, please contact HTCA board members Lorraine Driscoll, Kate Stern, or Jonna Stoycos. Thanks.