Panel to consider updating sign rules |

Panel to consider updating sign rules

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Community members have recommended Carson City not overhaul its freeway-related sign rules.

“The existing ordinance is more than adequate,” said Ronni Hannaman, executive director of the Carson City Area Chamber of Commerce.

After initial discussion about the issue in July and asking business owners and other residents to help the city’s Planning Division look into the matter as the freeway project continues, commissioners will consider during today’s meeting whether changes are necessary.

Hannaman was among the group of people who considered whether an overhaul was necessary. One of the things she and the others did was to go out to the freeway and watch as cranes were positioned in certain areas – such as Piñon Plaza and near Wal-Mart – to see whether signs at those heights would be visible to drivers.

It turns out many on-premise signs won’t be visible from much of the freeway under the current rules, which stipulate a maximum height of 30 feet for shopping centers. Single businesses can have signs no taller than 20 feet.

Supervisor Shelly Aldean said she believes the special-use permit process will adequately address the issue as individual sign requests come to the city.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” she said of the rules. “Most locals know where businesses are located.”

The Nevada Department of Transportation will be controlling signs directly along the freeway, and businesses will be able to buy space on a limited number of these signs that will direct commuters to food, lodging and other businesses near off-ramps, Aldean said.

“We’re concerned about what the look of the freeway is,” said Marie Bresch, assistant director of Gardeners Reclaiming Our Waysides, or GROW. The group is working with the city and state to do $2 million in landscaping around the freeway.

“Signage should be something that fits with the overall picture,” Bresch said.

Though the need isn’t all that important now to change the rules, new rules might be necessary as the freeway project progresses and major interchanges are completed, she said.

City leaders and many residents have said they don’t want billboards along the freeway, said Lee Plemel, the city’s principal planner.

Earlier this year, the Nevada Department of Transportation attempted to have an oversized ad billboard placed on Highway 50 East and Russell Way that pointed to the freeway. The city denied it. NDOT returned with a request for a billboard in the same spot that complied with current codes, and was granted permission to put it up.

NDOT has a target date of December 2010 for completion of the freeway through the city.

If you go

WHAT: Carson City Planning Commission meeting

WHEN: 3:30 p.m. today

WHERE: Sierra Room, Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.

In other business, the planning commission will:

• Hear a presentation about the city’s master plan as it pertains to mixed-use land designations and future zoning districts.

• Accept public testimony and take action regarding the content of the proposed Federal Lands Bill (scheduled to start at 5:45 p.m.)

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber or 882-2111, ext. 215.