The owners of Beach Avenue BBQ, a pork-centric restaurant poised to open perhaps later this month at Eight Corners in Brookfield, cleared a significant hurdle last week in their quest to keep a large, red Fiberglas pig on the roof above the front entrance at 3453 Grand Blvd.
The Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 27 voted 4-2 to recommend granting a variance from the village code, which prohibits rooftop business signs, with commission Chairman Charles Grund and Karen Miller voting against the proposal.
The commission’s recommendation is advisory only. The Brookfield Village Board is expected to discuss the recommendation at its March 9 committee of the whole meeting, with a formal vote on the recommendation likely to take place at their March 23 regular meeting.
Grund and Miller pointed to the extensive work recently completed to revamp the village’s sign code, which included a discussion about roof signs and outlaws them, as a reason to not make an exception in this case.
But commissioners Patrick Benjamin – who cast an enthusiastic vote in favor by placing a small, star-spangled pig figurine on the dais in front of him – Jennifer Hendricks, Christopher Straka and Todd Svoboda argued that the location and shape of the property did, in fact, present a hardship worthy of a variance.
“I think it is a hardship,” Hendricks said. “I think it is a difficult site and it’s a smart solution, and it’s a fun pig.”
The building sits at one of the eight “points” of the intersection that frame the Veterans Memorial Circle where Grand Boulevard, Washington Avenue, Broadway Avenue and Maple Avenue converge.
Beach Avenue BBQ owners Christopher Chin and Juan Silva, both LaGrange Park residents, said that they placed the pig atop the restaurant after getting what they thought was a verbal green light from Nicholas Greifer, the village’s former community and economic development director, though admittedly without obtaining a permit first.
The pig has stood on the roof since the beginning of the year, and Village Planner Elyse Vukelich said staff believed it was better to work with the owners on moving through the planning process rather than summarily order the pig taken down or fining them for the permit infraction.
Chin told commissioners that the location of the business on a difficult-to-navigate traffic circle made it difficult to spot.
“The solution was to add something easily identifiable as a landmark,” Chin said.
That assessment was supported by five members of the public who spoke in favor of allowing the pig monument.
Lynn Daugherty, who also sits on the Brookfield Beautification Commission, said the business would help out-of-towners find what could end up being a destination business and a feather in Brookfield’s cap.
She also read letters from two Eight Corners district business owners, who also voiced support for the pig.
Nancy Lisowski, president of the Brookfield-Riverside Rotary Club, also supported the variance, saying, “Anything we can do to keep this business in Brookfield should be considered.”