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Fanwood Board of Adjustment Okays Sign Changes For Presbyterian Church 97mar27

By ALEXANDRA JELKES Specially Written for The Times

On Thursday, March 20, the Fanwood Board of Adjustment held its regularly scheduled meeting. After Board Secretary Ruth Page called the meeting to order, the minutes from the last meeting were approved. The members present were board Chairwoman Kathleen Rice, Cynthia Swindlehurst, Edward Ryan, John Celardo and Jeffrey Strauss.

The first order of business dealt with the First Presbyterian Church of Fanwood, which is located on Block No. 87, Lot No. 2, on Martine and La Grande Avenues. The church had made an application and requested a variance on an attachment to enlarge one of its signs to 10 square feet. The second variance was requested to enlarge another sign to 16 square feet.

The board debated the issue of the size of the existing signs and the proposed changes. The representative for the First Presbyterian Church was George Zhelnik. Mr. Zhelnik addressed the board and explained the church’s purpose for the sign changes.

"There is no sign to identify our church and no present sign to identify the Westminster School, which is part of the church property," he said.

He told the board that the church had correspondence from various boards, including the Board of Health, and there was no objection to the proposed replacement of the old signs. Mr. Zhelnik explained that the church had followed the legal procedure for the variance application.

Mr. Zhelnik explained the church’s mission behind the sign changes, stating that "in recent years our membership has declined and surveys show that signs attract new members.

"Our current sign is not obvious enough, it needs larger letters of an increase to 16 square feet," he continued.

The second sign is needed, according to the church representative, because when someone is approaching the center of Fanwood, there is no sign indicating the denomination of the church. The old sign was erected in 1959.

A third sign would be installed at the church playground to identify the Westminster School. This school is only a year old and needs a sign to designate its location, Mr. Zhelnik said. The school used to be called the Acorn School but because the church felt the name did not indicate a Christian background, the name was changed to the Westminster School.

The first sign will announce the name of the church, the pastor, and the schedule of services. The part that says "Family Presbyterian Church" will be internally illuminated and slightly larger. Board attorney Charles H. Brandt asked Mr. Zhelnik if the school is part of the church. Mr. Zhelnik replied that it is part of the church and that the Planning Board gave it a conditional use permit last year.

The old Acorn School sign has since been replaced with the Westminster sign. There are also signs designated for parking. The church is trying to minimize cost and not destroy the sign but expand it, according to Mr. Zhelnik.

Once the public part of the meeting was closed, the board voted in favor of granting the First Presbyterian Church of Fanwood its variance.

The board also memorialized a resolution of its February 20 approval of variances for Igor and Elena Kruglyak, allowing them to create an addition onto their home and to widen their driveway.

The board briefly discussed its budget, which had been approved, and found it was about 3 percent higher than last year’s spending plan.


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