The Sandy Springs Board of Zoning Appeals voted 4-2 Aug. 15 to approve a variance for a sign extending above the roofline of the Target store due to open this fall at the Prado Shopping Center.

The sign will be a back-lighted Target logo without text mounted on a tower designed to increase the visibility of the store from Roswell Road.

Design architect Doug Bartolomeo of Minneapolis-based Target Corp. said that without the elevated sign, the store would get exposure through signs only to a row of town homes to the south.

Company architects ask three questions in designing buildings, he said: “Can I see it, meaning the store? Can I get there, meaning can I navigate my car close to the store? Can I park? And it’s that first question, can I see it, that’s sort of the rub here.”

He argued that Sandy Springs’ ordinance against signs that extend above the roofline is common throughout the country but usually applies to billboards, which “determine the skyline.”

“What we’ve done here is keep it below the parapet. It’s on a tower. The tower is a four-sided architectural piece that’s finished on all four sides. The sign is on the tower but below the top of it,” Bartolomeo said.

He also praised the design aspects of the Prado redevelopment.

“Stacking all of what would normally be a sea of parking into a cube — four parking decks — and then wrapping that with mixed-use and retail boxes is extraordinary in an age today when we’re trying to be green,” he said. “This essentially hides the parking and lets the buildings be seen.”

Trisha Thompson of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods at first protested the sign variance. She compared the project to the Dunwoody Target, which was not allowed an above-the-roof sign: “We feel that there is no hardship here and, like the Dunwoody above-the-roof signs, should be rejected.”

Bartolomeo said, “We think we comply with a reasonable interpretation of that guideline by keeping the sign on the architecture.”

Thompson later changed her position and supported the variance.

Board members Ruth Coan and Ken Moller voted against the variance.