Business wants giant popcorn box in its lot

By CANDY NEAL
Herald Staff Writer

JASPER — A couple who owns two businesses on Newton Street just north of 15th Street in Jasper wants to add a structure they say would catch people’s interest and make passersby stop to pose for pictures.

Illustration Provided by Tom and Juanita Eckert
A couple who owns two businesses on Newton Street just north of 15th Street in Jasper wants to add a structure they say would catch people’s interest and make passersby stop to pose for pictures.

Tom and Juanita Eckert, owners of Eckert Pool Supply and Jasper Gift Basket & Popcorn Company at 1522 Newton St., want to place in the middle of their parking lot a 14-foot-tall structure shaped like a container of popcorn.

“We would like to create an architectural roadside icon,” Tom Eckert told the Jasper Plan Commission on Wednesday night. “We are trying to be unique.”

The Eckerts explained their idea and showed the commission a rendering of the structure. It would be a tilted box of popcorn resembling a container of popcorn sold at movie theaters, with popcorn peeking from the top of the container. The bucket portion of the structure would be constructed of aluminum, with the overflowing popcorn made of fiberglass. The structure would measure 14 feet tall, 8 feet long and 8 feet deep and have “Jasper, Indiana” written near the bottom. The box would be placed in the middle of the parking lot and would not obstruct the view of drivers climbing or descending the hill along Newton Street, Tom Eckert said.

Eckert said the structure would also help promote the popcorn company, which some may not realize is located in the building. People notice the pool company because they see pool products out on the lot, he noted.

 “We are just trying to display our popcorn, too,” Eckert said.

The novelty of the box will help attract tourists, “by increasing tourism and keeping shoppers in Jasper,” Eckert added.

Commission member Nick Brames questioned if the structure would fall under the city’s sign ordinance.

“If this is considered a sign, would others want to do this, too?” he asked.

“I don’t view it as a sign,” commission member Kevin Manley said. “The name of the business isn’t on it.”

Manley, who is a Jasper councilman and executive director of the Dubois County Tourism & Visitors Center, said the structure would be unique, like the oversized baseball bat on display at the Louisville Slugger Museum that climbs 120 feet into downtown Louisville.

“This would be eye-catching,” Manley said. “I can see people stopping there and getting a picture taken by it. It is a little different than what we see in our community. I think we should give it a chance. This could be something special.”

City Attorney Renee Kabrick said the structure falls under the zoning ordinance’s definition of a sign.

Since the Eckerts already have signs that use the total square footage allowed for their business site, they need approval for their parking lot popcorn box from the Jasper Board of Zoning Appeals. Tom Eckert said he plans to speak to the zoning board next month.

City Engineer Chad Hurm, who sits on the plan commission, said items such as these should be considered as the city works toward updating its zoning and subdivision control ordinances, a process that is ongoing.

Contact Candy Neal at cneal@dcherald.com.




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