Ethan Allen furniture is a step closer to opening a 24,000 square foot sales showroom at Olde Ridge Village in Chadds Ford Township. The national furniture chain cleared a zoning hurdle with a compromise on signs reached with the Chadds Ford Zoning Hearing Board last week.

Township code allows for one 20 square foot sign for the two-story structure that's planned for the shopping center at Ridge Road and Route 202. The company wanted three 57.5 square foot signs -- one for the front and two more for the north and south sides of the building -- with a fourth sign of 5 square feet over the front door.

Ethan Allen agreed to a compromise offered by Zoning Hearing Board Vice Chairman Bob Reardon.

"You're asking for a substantial variance. ... I am reluctant to grant a variance of this size," Reardon said before the board discussed the matter off the record.

Following that closed discussion, Reardon suggested one 57.5 square foot sign on the front of the building parallel to Route 202, one 20 square foot sign on the north side of the building facing southbound Route 202 traffic and a third sign of 5 square feet over the front door.

The variance is for Ethan Allen only and would become null and void if that company leave.

Sign lettering will be 30 inches high, blue and internally illuminated, said Mimi Olson of Service Select Signs.

Donald Petrosa, the attorney representing Ethan Allen said the proposed building, a two-story structure with 12,000 square feet per floor -- 120 feet by 100 feet -- would be allowed a 20 square foot sign for each occupying business in the building by township code.

He offered a scenario in which six retail businesses with 20-foot wide storefronts on the ground floor, and an equal number of businesses on the second floor could occupy the building. The building, under such condit1ons, would be allowed to have 12 signs of 20 square feet each, said the former Chadds Ford Township solicitor.

Ethan Allen has a location in Concordville now but wants more space, according to Dominic A. Pileggi, owner of Olde Ridge Village and chairman of the Concord Township Board of Supervisors.

He told hearing board members that it has been difficult finding a large national store to anchor the shopping center that is based on a village concept of several small structures as opposed to a large L-shaped mall.

"We were excited when Ethan Allen approached us," Pileggi said, adding that having Ethan Allen as a tenant will result in less vehicular traffic for the area than the restaurants that were originally planned for the site.

The building will be constructed as part of the planned expansion of the shopping center, an expansion already approved by Chadds Ford supervisors.

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