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City Responds To Sign Controversy

Dublin officials say they've been working since December with Phillip Chin to resolve the dispute

Dublin officials responded today to a disagreement with a business owner over a sign in front of his restaurant.

Phillip Chin that city officials have told him he must modify or take down the sign in front of his on Regional Street. He said his sign is actually smaller than another one right next to it.

This afternoon, Linda Smith, the city's public information officer, released the following statement:

“The City wishes to respond to the Dublin Patch story involving Mr. Chin and the Willow Tree sign.

In early December 2011, it was discovered that Mr. Chin erected a new sign on his property without City review, building permits and planning approval – which is a City requirement for the construction of a new sign.  Staff issued a notice within days of the discovery.  Within a few days, the City received a complaint from a neighboring business about the sign as well.  Since that time, the City believed that we had been working in good faith with Mr. Chin to find a reasonable solution.

A sign of this height (more than six feet) requires, by code, that a building permit be issued and structural calculations prepared by a licensed Engineer.  Mr. Chin did not do this.  It is unclear to the City how this sign was constructed and whether it poses a health and safety issue until the City is able to obtain additional information on its construction and conduct an inspection.   

City staff was in contact with Mr. Chin and/or his representatives since December to discuss the building and planning requirements to bring his sign into conformance.  Mr. Chin indicated that he needed some time due to the Chinese New Year holiday and the City honored that request.  In mid-February, Mr. Chin stopped by the City to discuss the requirements again and the City offered him interpreter services to assist in the discussion.  Mr. Chin declined the City’s offer, indicating that a friend would assist him in a follow up meeting.  Staff attempted to reach Mr. Chin on five occasions between late February and early March to resolve the matter.

A meeting was held with one of his representatives on March 27 to discuss the options of bringing the sign into conformance and extended our willingness to work with him on a reasonable solution.  The City was told that Mr. Chin or his representative would be in contact with us.  A subsequent meeting was held on April 18 with his representative who informed the City that Mr. Chin was going to remove the sign but needed additional time to do so.  City staff received an email from his representative on April 23 in which it was expressed that Mr. Chin had “no interest” in meeting in regards to the sign situation.  However, the City understands from Mr. Chin’s representative that Mr. Chin still intends to bring the sign into conformance. 

As it relates to the reasonable solution mentioned earlier, the City has offered Mr. Chin and his representatives a couple of options – reduce the sign to under six feet so that structural calculations are no longer needed or reduce the sign area with additional building materials and provide structural calculations to bring the sign into conformance, with the first option being the least difficult to do. Additionally, comparisons continue to be made with the adjacent sign featuring the Holiday Inn and Outback Steakhouse.  This is multi-tenant sign with the proper approvals and permits for its design and construction.  Comments attributed to Blog regarding the reasons why the City may be such action are unfounded and completely false.

Mr. Chin has been a long-standing and well-known business owner in Dublin and the City wishes him continued success in operating Willow Tree Restaurant.  The City takes great pride in our ongoing working relationship with the business community, particularly with small businesses and we work fairly and honestly to resolve matters in order to have the least amount of impact on business.  The City will continue to be willing to work and meet with Mr. Chin and/or his representatives to reach a solution.”

Pi April 26, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Ms. Smith: thank you for this follow-up and your reassurance that the city is actively working with Mr. Chin to bring a positive conclusion. The community will be watching.
timothy April 27, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I like the sign as it shows in the photo. Ask him to pay his fee and move on.
Dublin Resident April 28, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Why not just put "Willowtree" in between "Outback" and "Holiday Inn"? I mean come on, it'll fit and will be one less sign - plus that sign is already there and approved. OR - we could fine him $90,000 so we could hire another deputy. We'll need it once that new low income complex is built off of Doughtery.
Eric Muetterties April 29, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Glad there was a thorough response to this. I hope it gets resolved quickly. Let's show that our local government works for the people they serve! Forget the fines. Lets get it resolved. He has been here a long time.
none of your business April 29, 2012 at 07:40 PM
Dont be fooled , the city pays OUR tax dollars in form of a salary paid to a person who specializes in polishing terds into diamonds !!!!! Give them enough time to put a response together and they will come up with something you read that would convince you to let them take your wife to dinner , take your car for a cruise , pet your dog and sleep in your bed. Its all BS !!!!! I have had my personnel experiences with both the City and in particular Dean both of which I found extremely drunk with what the perceive as power combined with ZERO common sense. I wonder how many of them have worked for or owned a private business ?? I came away with the sense they honestly feel as though they are all knowing and even more dangerous feel they have the intelligence to know better than we do. I will give them some credit they are very , very good at snake oil salesmanship. They found some BS code enforcement jibber jabber about the multi-tenant difference affecting the size of a legal sign , man thats a good one. I too am at blame just like you reading this as I let them get away with it day to day , month to month year to year. Until we put our numbers to power they will become stronger just like our federal government is right now. People thought it grew under Bush , OMG NOT !! I am not a paranoid person but will say we all need to remind our local , state and federal employees know they need to check themselves and get in order to serve our needs NOT their egos !!
melodiegal April 30, 2012 at 07:17 PM
The city’s response to the situation is reasonable and appropriate. Mr. Chin violated code and process - which by the way, other businesses didn’t seem to have a problem following- by illegally constructing the sign. Codes are in place to ensure the safety of the public. Permits are in place to ensure structures are built in a safe manner and that code is followed. The City has established an equitable process to maintain all businesses are treated fairly. Mr. Chin’s behavior towards this matter is offensive to all the other private businesses that follow the process and codes to obtain the proper permits. It is sad that a long standing business can act as if they are above the law and do what ever they deem appropriate at the cost of the public’s welfare. If he is this careless in constructing a sign, what other shortcuts does he take with his business?

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