Ross Dress for Less company officials are planning to open a new dd's Discounts brand store in Ceres but were told on Monday that they cannot attach a sign to the Hatch Road building larger than what the city's sign ordinance allows.
dd's is moving into the former CVS Pharmacy store at 1620 E. Hatch Road.
The company applied for a variance from city sign standards and argued that a larger sign is needed to help the public become familiar with the concept that dd's goods apply to ladies, kids and men clothing, as well as shoes and home goods. But members of the Ceres Planning Commission weren't buying the argument.
The company proposed two signs on the building - one along the north face that fronts Hatch Road and one on the eastern wall that faces Richland Avenue. However, they sought a 273 square feet sign on the front that should be no larger than 182 square feet. The eastern wall sign was proposed at 78 square feet rather than the maximum allowed size of 25 square feet.
The city bases sign size on a formula of one square foot of sign area for every linear foot of building fronting.
The city told Ross personnel that the proposed awning, or parapet, could not exceed the height of the Cost Less Foods parapet located to the west. When the city saw the proposed parapet, said Associate Planner James Michaels, it appeared the store was only intending to accommodate a large sized sign. He said Cost Less Foods and other businesses on the block have complied with the rules for signage and didn't see why dd's should be given special treatment.
Jeff Sealy, regional vice president of Real Estate for Ross Stores, failed to convince the commission that there is something unique about the physical characteristics of the building that would allow the commission to make the four findings necessary for a variance.
"Frankly we take the approach that we try to take as much (signage) as we can get," Sealy told the commission, "understanding that we're trying to work within the code. One of the challenges that we face with DD's in particularly -- as opposed to Ross who everybody is familiar with - is dd's is a relatively new concept for Ross."
He claimed that the larger signs were needed for all the extra verbiage desired to convey what the store is about. Commissioner Hugo Molina said he saw Ross' problem as a marketing issue, not cause for a new sign. Gary Del Nero, the chairman of the commission, told Sealy that there are other channels to get the public acquainted with their new brand. Commissioners Bob Kachel, Laurie Smith and Dave Chapman all agreed that only two of the four findings could be made.
The commission voted down the request in a 5-0 vote but welcomed the store to Ceres.