Residents of Cottonwood Heights, angry over newly constructed billboards they say block their view of the mountains, are calling for a government crackdown on signs.
Jay Brown, chairman of the Cottonwood Heights Community Council, said the signs, near Bengal Boulevard (7460 South) and 2000 East, are "freeway-type billboards.""Residents just don't think they should have to put up with that kind of thing," he said.
The Community Council, which gives advice to the County Commission on neighborhood issues, wants the county to make it illegal to erect billboards in any commercial zones designated as C-1 and C-2. Those zones often are located near residential areas, they reason.
They made enough angry phone calls to the County Planning Commission in recent weeks that the commission, which has given lukewarm support to such a ban in the past, decided last week to raise the issue again with county commissioners. This time, they said, they stand united in opposition to signs in the two commercial zones.
But county commissioners rejected such a proposal in September. They also did away with a provision that required companies to remove signs within five years that didn't comply with county standards.
Undaunted, residents say they are unhappy with that solution. They say most people who live in the area oppose what they see as the proliferation of large, unsightly billboards.
The signs are owned by Reagan Outdoor Advertising Inc. Company spokesman Mike Reberg said the complaints are coming from a vocal minority. He said the company is getting tired of spending time and money to fight the same battles over and over.
"We've devoted countless hours to this since 1987," Reberg said, noting the signs in question are legal according to current county ordinances. "We thought it was over. Because someone didn't get their way . . . we have to keep going. Taxpayers don't want their taxes spent in this redundant policy bickering."
Community Council members say opposition to the signs is not confined to a limited few.
Gordon Thomas, a council member, said he became convinced of the near universal displeasure of residents near the signs during a recent meeting. The room was filled with people interested in a variety of issues on the agenda. But when someone raised the sign issue, virtually everyone in the room expressed their anger, he said.
"They just don't blend in," Thomas said about the signs. "They stick out. I guess if I was a sign man, I'd like them to stick out."
Thomas said he believes a person should have a right to make money off a piece of commercial property, "but I think it should be in the realm of propriety."
County Commissioner Bart Barker sounded irritated when the issue came up at a recent meeting.
"When an applicant from outside proposes a zoning change and is denied, they have to wait a whole year before bringing it back in," he said. "I feel uncomfortable with not holding the county to the same standard. The issue here is one of fairness. We're not above the law, and we're certainly not above our own practices."
County Commission to reconsider signs
Salt Lake County commissioners have decided once again to talk about the proliferation of billboards on Nov. 21 and to decide whether to hold another hearing to consider changing the county ordinance.