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TAXPAYERS MAY FOOT BILL FOR A 120-FOOT MISTAKE

The city - and thus Orem taxpayers - may end up footing the bill to relocate or shorten a flagpole erected by Macey's at the corner of State Street and 800 North near the site of its new grocery store.

The council will decide next week what to do about the 120-foot flagpole a former city employee mistakenly gave Macey's the OK to erect. The employee since has left the city to accept a job elsewhere.An Orem zoning ordinance requires City Council approval of a conditional-use permit for any uninhabitable structure more than 48 feet in height.

At 120 feet, the pole is 21/2 times the height that requires a conditional-use permit. The error quickly became apparent when Macey's put the pole up recently.

Macey's owners planned to fly a 30-by-60-foot flag from the pole; in a stiff canyon breeze the flag would extend about 40 feet out over State Street.

City Council members voted 5-1 to delay a decision on the pole for a week while city staff members research the cost of shortening or relocating it as well as the implications of the various options for dealing with the pole. However, it gave Macey's permission to raise a flag on the pole June 17 as part of an already scheduled and advertised flag-raising ceremony.

Councilman Kelvin Clayton, who supports letting the pole stand, voted against the motion.

City Manager Daryl Berlin recommended to the council Tuesday night that it deny a retroactive conditional-use permit for the pole and require the store to reduce the pole to 48 feet. The council raised the option of moving the pole away from the street during the meeting.

The city likely would bear financial responsibility for shortening the pole or relocating it.

City staff say the pole is not only non-conforming, but the huge flag also could be distracting, posing a safety hazard to motorists on State Street and 800 North.

But some council members, as well as Kirk Brimley, a representative of Young Electric Sign Co., which erected the pole for Macey's, discounted concerns about safety.

Similar flags flown in Provo and Salt Lake County have not proven a problem, he said, nor have banners strung across streets in some cities.

The estimated cost of shortening the pole is $1,000. Relocating it away from the street could run as much as $4,000.

In addition, Macey's spent $3,900 on three flags for the pole. John Allen, Macey's vice president, said the company has a 120-foot pole at its Logan store but has no need for additional flags there.

"It would be years before we would have to use the flags in another location," he said.

And he told the council Macey's investment of $10,000 in the cost of the pole, its supporting foundation and the three flags would not be recouped by the city picking up the cost of chopping the pole's size down.

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(Additional information)

Options in Orem

Orem may have to pay the cost of altering Macey's new flagpole.

- Shortening the pole would cost $1,000.

- Relocating it away from the street could cost $4,000.

Also, the grocery store has spent $3,900 on flags for the pole.