Planning Commission axes 65-foot-high Wal-Mart sign

The Carson City Planning Commission rejected a proposal to build a 65-foot-high sign near the freeway in the city's largest shopping center.

Several members said the North Carson Crossing sign, which would have been the biggest in the city, was larger than necessary and would set a bad precedent for signs along the freeway.

A handful of residents who would live near the sign also spoke against it at the meeting and cheered when a majority of commissioners rejected the proposal.

The commission did, however, approve a permit for a 45-foot sign, though the shopping center owner, Kent Witt, insisted the 65 feet was needed. The decision can be appealed to the Board of Supervisors within 10 days.

Though the commission rejected the sign, the city's planning division had recommended the commission approve it, saying it would help to lure business and customers to the 50-acre shopping center.

Witt and the planning division said the sign was also needed to be that tall so that 40 feet of it would extend over a sound wall above the freeway. "In three years, this trade area is going to change profoundly in Carson City and this shopping center is going to become more important than ever," he said. "There's no secret, there's no use pussy-footing around. There's a big competition going on right now between Douglas County and Carson City for sales tax revenue, and we want to see if we can help keep those (dollars) in Carson City."

But residents who would live near the $200,000 sign said it would ruin their view and the light from it at night would be too bright.

"What will be the next variance request that will come before you?" said resident Rose Boyer. "A hundred-foot sign? What will be the standard, and for how long? The whole shopping center, in my estimation, has been a ruination of the otherwise-calm north end of the city."

Commissioners also said the sign's 14 panels were too many, and freeway drivers wouldn't have enough time to read them before they passed. Some recommended that only the center's anchor stores, such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot, show above the freeway.

Commissioner Mark Kimbrough said the sign would be confusing. But Marc Lipkowitz, head of the company that designed Witt's sign, said allowing the sign was only fair because there are many others in the city that are about 40 feet tall.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.


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