ALPINE — A tempting offer from a local sign company owner has Alpine City officials toying with the idea of violating their own sign ordinance.
Matt Marvel, the owner of Orion Outdoor Lighting, recently donated the lights for the centerpiece arrangement of the new south Main Street/Canyon Crest Drive roundabout.
In exchange, he was told he could put up a small, freestanding, 2-foot by 3-foot sign advertising his company for a short period of time.
Now he's offering to provide free Christmas lights in exchange for being permitted to leave the sign in place a few weeks or months longer.
But the city sign ordinance, crafted after months of meetings and hours of discussion by the Planning Commission and City Council, does not allow for an off-site commercial sign to be placed in the roundabout's center area.
Planning Commission Chairwoman Jannicke Brewer said she'll be interested to see what the city attorney says on the matter.
"I don't know. I felt that our sign ordinance did not allow off-site, off-premise advertising," Brewer said Wednesday, following the council meeting where the matter was discussed. "I couldn't see that we could do that."
She's also worried about setting a precedent.
"Who is the next one?" she said.
Brewer said other signs on and around the roundabout — including those posted on the chain-link fence east of the area — may also violate the ordinance because they are not specifically about community events.
Brewer said, "If they actually advertise a community event like Alpine Days, you can put them up for 30 days prior to the event, but what is a community event? Is it a PTA Halloween carnival? Is it just non-profit organizations? What about for-profit? Does that mean the new playhouse can have signs up for eight months of the year?"
Mayor Phil Barker said Marvel is providing a donation that is saving the city several thousand dollars and perhaps deserves special consideration.
"So are we saying we'll circumvent an ordinance because we like the idea?" said Councilman Hunt Willoughby.
The council voted to allow Marvel to continue to post his sign until after New Year's Day in exchange for the free Christmas lights.
The motion was made subject to attorney David Church's approval, however. Church, contacted Thursday, said he had not seen the information and could not comment as yet.
Bill Baranowski, who has helped design dozens of roundabouts in several states, said he's never seen signage placed within the center area.
"It's never been done in any one I've done," he said.