Friday, August 19, 2022

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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University asks town to allow additional entry signs

Elon’s town council will resume consideration of a request from Elon University for a rezoning request that will allow new, large entry signs into the university campus along University Drive and O’Kelly Avenue, including an ornamental bell tower in the median of O’Kelly Avenue.

The entrance signs on O’Kelly Avenue would be on the right and left sides of the existing roadway that runs through campus. The left side would be adjacent to the acreage of the Elon Inn. The property addresses are listed as 605 (the Elon Inn side of the roadway) and 616 O’Kelly Avenue (across the street).

The bell tower in the center of the road would be in the existing median of O’Kelly, filling out the full existing width of the median, 10 feet, by 10 feet. The height was variously described as 34 feet tall at the hearing held by the town council on last Monday, June 27, although the architectural drawings list it as 36 feet tall.

It was explained that the signage was purely decorative, but required approval since it was considerably larger than is customarily allowed by the town’s ordinances.

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Councilman Randy Orwig asked whether there would be any turn lanes, and councilman Monti Allison asked about possible curb and guttering on the corners with the new signs. But interim town planner Carrie Spencer explained to the council members that there would be no new turn lanes into or out of O’Kelly. She also said no additional curb or guttering would be required by the town or offered by the university. Neither are additional sidewalks being planned.

Brad Moore, the university’s architect and director of planning, design and construction management, said the bell tower would be illuminated, as will the two entrance signs.

The signs may be constructed in phases, with one side installed first and the second to follow later.

[Story continues below rendering of the entrance into Elon University looking south on O’Kelly Avenue from University Drive.]

The bell tower in the O’Kelly median is planned in order to give a “vertical element” to the entry to the campus from the north. Moore acknowledged that there would no actual bell in the bell tower, unlike another, larger bell tower located beside the university’s football field.

Resident Jim Sykes posed several questions about the plans and particularly whether wetlands would be impacted by the placement of the new signs.

Chet Deshmukh, who is both an Elon town resident and parent of an Elon University student, voiced support for the project as a way to highlight the entrance onto campus.

Town councilmen closed the hearing after about 30 minutes. They will resume consideration next Tuesday, July 12.

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