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City P and Z elects new officers, moves sign ordinance forward

by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG — New officers were elected to the City of Walsenburg Planning and Zoning Committee during the committeeʼs first meeting of 2012. Elected as chairman of the committee and as chair of the Board of Adjustment was Dr. William Beverly, on a 6-1 vote, with member Mike Lave voting no.
The vice chair nomination by board member Larry Patrick fell to board member George Birrer who declined to accept the nomination. Stephen Savageau, who was nominated by Gary Sporcich, became the vice chair by affirmation. Affirmation means that if no others are nominated or one of the nominees steps back from the nomination, then a singular nominee receives the position automatically or by affirmation. Board member George Birrer became the secretary on a 7-0 vote by the committee.
Following the appointment of new officers, the committee rolled up its sleeves and began hammering out a possible sign ordinance for the city, focusing on the special signage needs of the Northland district. The sign ordinance has been worked on for a year.
The district, just off Interstate 25 at exit 52, needs larger signs that can be seen from the interstate. The example discussed was the sign at the Acorn Plaza. The plaza has a sign that has been engineered for visibility from the interstate but it has not been installed because of a needed change to the sign ordinances allowing for height and sign face size.
The new Shell sign, when erected, will be 100 feet in height and have a 256-square-foot face. Acorn has been waiting for signage ordinance that will allow them to erect the sign for two years. According to Tony Ragiborski, the general manager of the Acorn Plaza, “Weʼve lost revenue over the past two years because of not having the sign up. I know the economy has been down, but weʼve lost revenue despite the bad economy and that means the city has also lost revenue.” Ragiborski didnʼt specify the amount of lost revenue.
Other sign ordinances that P and Z considered were off-premise signs. An example of an off-premise sign is the First Choice Market trailer parked across the street from Walsenburg Lumber. Discussed were fee structures and face size of the signs. Off premise signs could be placed around the city but not alongside the highways. Those areas are controlled by the Colorado Department of Transportation and CDOT has noted off-premise signs will not be placed there.
Also discussed were on-premise signs that stand alone, especially in the Northlands district where US Highway 85/87 runs through it. A set- back will be needed to comply with CDOT rules as well as to avoid digging into underground utilities.
Signage in the historic downtown area of the city as well as along 7th street was also discussed. According to committee chair Dr. William Beverly, the committee will need to have an ordinance in place before any variances can be discussed.
A draft ordinance will be ready to be reviewed by the planning and zoning committee as early as the end of January or beginning of February.