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W.V. sign ordinance aims for consistency

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WEST VALLEY CITY — There are signs the city is changing the way it looks.

Streetscapes have not been changing with policies the city has been trying to promote. In an effort to change that, the city recently passed a sign ordinance emphasizing shorter monument signs, limiting pole signs to sites with 10 or more acres and requiring property owners to replace any nonconforming signs when ownership or tenancy changes or if the type of property usage changes.

The city is trying to deal with what it terms a "proliferation" of signs, despite attempts two years ago to cut back on the number of temporary signs. Stretches of 3500 South through West Valley are some of the worse areas, said City Manager John Patterson. The new ordinance has already rattled some rafters.

Councilwoman Carolynn Burt is also in business along 3500 South and owns a second piece of commercial property there. She declared a conflict of interest but voted against the ordinance on behalf of other small business owners. She was the lone dissenter.

"I think it's punitive to small businesses," Burt said. "If the use changes for a building, the sign, which is an asset to that person, has to come down. I think that's kind of excessive punishment."

Burt said the eventual widening of 3500 South would eliminate some of the problems as old pole signs along the street come down. Any new signs would not be allowed if they fit the planning commission's definition of "garish," which specifies several undesirable colors.

"You cannot stay in business if you're invisible," Burt stressed. "You need to be able to capture your market share however you can . . . it's a commercial area."

The problems on 3500 South, Patterson said, popped up over the years when the city was in unincorporated Salt Lake County and there was little management in terms of what signs were allowed.

E-MAIL: sspeckman@desnews.com