Despite complaints by residents who say billboards are spoiling their views of the mountains and cheapening their communities, Salt Lake County commissioners have decided not to consider restrictions on sign companies.
But despite the vote by commissioners Wednesday, the controversy over billboards is far from over.Commission Chairman Mike Stewart said he would like to see a valleywide study, involving every city and sign company, to reach final conclusions to problems that have vexed residents and governments for years.
"Every time a sign goes up, someone writes a letter," Stewart said. "We need to bring some resolution to this problem valleywide."
Residents who live in the area near 2000 East and Bengal Boulevard oppose what they see as the proliferation of large, unsightly billboards. The Cottonwood Heights Community Council, which gives advice to the County Commission and the County Planning Commission on neighborhood matters, asked that signs be outlawed in areas zoned C-1 and C-2, which often are located near residences.
But the commission, which rejected such a plan in September, rejected it again Wednesday.
"We felt it was too soon after our former action," Stewart said, noting developers are required to wait a year before resubmitting zoning requests that the commission rejects. The decision means that, for now at least, the signs Cottonwood Heights residents are concerned about will remain, and signs could be erected in similar areas around the county's unincorporated area.
"I'm disappointed, frankly," said Jay Brown, chairman of the Cottonwood Heights Community Council. "I know the residents will be disappointed."
Brown said he was certain the issue would come up again. "I'm convinced the residents will not be satisfied in letting the issue die."
He and other residents hope newly elected commissioners Randy Horiuchi and Jim Bradley will see the issue differently when they take office in January.
The signs in the Cottonwood Heights area are owned by Reagan Outdoor Advertising Inc. Company spokesman Mike Reberg said he is happy with the commission's decision, but he knows it will come up again.
"The issues with signs are always going to be issues," he said. "We're pleased that, at least for the time being, it appears to be over."
Reberg has said he believes 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.
Although they rejected the request, commissioners did ask county officials to study the amortization of signs, which would require the owners of signs erected in areas where billboards now are illegal to remove them within a certain number of years. However, they did not commit any money to such a study.
Stewart did not say how or when a valleywide board would be convened to study the broad issue of where government should allow billboards.