Sign rule changes may be coming
Published: Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Location, location, location. And directions to that location.
Those, Brian Lintz, said are the key to operating a successful business in Custer County. However, he claims the county’s sign ordinance prohibits him from pursuing the latter.
Lintz, owner of Lintz Brothers Pizza in Hermosa, came before the Custer County Commission at its regular meeting Sept. 3 to request the county consider amending its sign ordinance, saying he felt it was too stringent and negated virtually all new forms of billboard advertising.
County ordinance states that businesses may have signage on a business or property, but doess not allow for placing of billboards on “historic and scenic lands.” The trouble with that verbiage, he said, is that the entire county has been declared historic and scenic, meaning there is nowhere that new billboards may be erected.
Lintz said it is vital that businesses be allowed to put up signage in the area around their businesses to tell people they are near it and how to get to it, particularly during times such as the rally and tourism season in general.
Because of the ordinance, Lintz said he has to “skirt” the rules during the rally and has vinyl signs made directing bikes to his restaurant, which he places along Hwy. 36 near his family’s ranch a few miles east of the business. Once the signs are discovered, he receives a letter from the county, telling him he has 30 days to remove the sign or face a fine.
Lintz said it would be better for business owners to be allowed to construct an attractive, well-maintained billboard rather than have to put up vinyl signs, which he agreed are eyesores.
He also feels allowing more signage would be an economic development tool and could create more revenue for the county. Lintz said there is a direct correlation between the makeshift signs he puts up during the rally and business to his restaurant and he doesn’t want to be limited in his advertising options.
Lintz also conceded that many people, and perhaps the majority of people, are against billboards, but said he feels there are ways the county’s ordinance could be loosened.
“Iâ��know it’s not a popular stance to tackle this, but it’s the right stance,” he said.
County planning director David Green said that while he agrees the entire county is “historic and scenic,” he, too, agreed there needs to be provisions in the ordinance to allow signage in certain areas. He added the ordinance is scheduled to be revisited by the county planning commission as soon as it is done working its way through revisions to the county’s land use ordinance.
Commission chairman Travis Bies said any amendment to the ordinance would have to be looked at closely, saying he wouldn’t want to see Custer County’s highways end up looking like I-90, where there is often a stream of billboards.
The commission agreed to look into the issue further and will start at the planning level to look at possible amendments. Lintz’s father, Jim Lintz, a member of the county commission, abstained from the entire discussion, citing a conflict of interest.
The commission also heard from Dennis Knuckles, a county resident who owns a plane and leases hangar space from the county at the Custer County Airport. Knuckles leases space in the hangar the commission voted to tear down at a previous meeting, citing its deteriorating state and liability issues.
Knuckles came to the commission with an alternate plan that would see two-thirds of the building torn down, with the southernmost third left for him to repair to the county’s satisfaction. In exchange for his work, the county would then grant ownership of what’s left of the building to him, although he would still pay rent and obey the rules of the county lease.
Commissioner Mark Hartman said while he thought Knuckles’ plan was doable, the trusses are bad the entire length of the building, there is tin coming off the roof and some of the poles going into the ground are showing rot. Knuckles assured the commission he would fix all the problems if given a chance. The issue was tabled until the next meeting so it could be studied further.
Finally, a hearing was held on the proposed county budget, which went up from $4.157 million at the previous meeting to $4.326 million because of some modifications, the bulk of which was the county’s recent purchase of a new computer system.
However, the system will be paid for through extra Payment in Lieu of Taxes money the county received from the federal government, along with rebates from the Build America Bonds it used during construction of the courthouse.
Neither of those funding sources can be shown as revenue for the county, causing what was once a $65,000 surplus for the 2014 budget to now look like a $80,000 deficit.
The rest of the Sept. 3 meeting of the Custer County Commission will be covered in next week’s Custer County Chronicle.
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