Freeway sign ordinance moves forward

By Dave Frank

Appeal Staff Writer

A new freeway sign ordinance recognizes the needs of businesses but also makes sure developers don't intrude on neighboring residents, city planners say.

The Carson City Planning Commission passed an ordinance this week it and city staff have been working on since January to handle concerns about growth along the city freeway.

The height of a sign could be at most 30 feet above the freeway -or its sound wall - and could be at most 600 square feet, depending on the size of the property the sign was built on.

The ordinance also does not allow flashing and animated electronic signs, though images can change every four seconds.

The plan will now go to the board of supervisors for approval.

The commission passed a temporary moratorium at the beginning of the year on signs over the 30-feet-tall height allowed without a permit.

This came after the commission rejected a proposal in late November by the largest shopping center in the city, North Carson Crossing, to build a 65-foot-tall sign for its stores, which include Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

It did approve a 45-foot-tall sign for the shopping center, but property manager Kent Witt has appealed the decision to the board of supervisors.

Witt said he was working on the appeal, but wasn't sure when he will bring it back to the supervisors.

Residents in the neighboring Northridge subdivision have said his sign was intrusive and unnecessarily large. Witt said the sign was needed to attract business.

City staff had thought about banning signs along the freeway altogether, said Planning Director Lee Plemel, but thought businesses had a point.

A 600-square-foot sign will be "rare" because of the requirements, though, he said. The only sign in the city that could be bigger than that is Witt's, which was approved at 800 square feet.

Signs for Bodines, Harley Davidson, Slot World and Gold Dust West are all less than 200 square feet.

The planning commission reduced the size to 600 square feet because anything larger was "ridiculous," said Commissioner Mark Kimbrough, but commission members also had "a little empathy for the business community."

The first phase of the Carson City section of the freeway was finished in 2006, and the second phase was started in October 2007. It is scheduled to eventually hit U.S. 395 at the base of Spooner Summit.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.


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