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For the week of July 26 through August 1, 2000

Say ‘no’ to lighted logos

People who love the look of suburbia will love the signs proposed for the new St. Luke’s hospital south of Ketchum.

St. Luke’s proposal includes two 75-square-foot back-lighted cross logos on the new building, a lighting scheme that would not be allowed in either Ketchum or Sun Valley.

The backlighting is to be a "soft blue." That means it will look like neon, but without the tell-tale tubes.

The hospital will be back in front of the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission tomorrow night at 6:30 p.m. with signs blazing.

Some of the signs proposed are vintage mall. Some are made of blue translucent plastic and housed in brick "monuments." Some are even located within public rights of way where signs for private operations are prohibited.

The county planning office says it is unclear how many of the signs will be lighted. Documents on file with the planning office are contradictory. Some documents say the signs will be backlighted, some say the signs will be lighted indirectly.

If the sign package is approved, no one in Blaine County will be sign deprived. St. Luke’s has proposed 10 signs—nine more than the county would allow any other commercial operation.

Granted, the hospital is not an ordinary chain store, but the number and size of signs, and the logo lighting proposed are the antithesis of the low-key atmosphere that Ketchum and Sun Valley, have tried hard to preserve.

Blaine County itself allows just one informational sign in conjunction with commercial or industrial uses. The surface area cannot exceed 20 square feet and must be indirectly lighted or unlighted.

St. Luke’s has asked for signs whose size totals 367 square feet. It has requested variances for 317 square feet.

The signs include two road entry signs, a building entry sign, an emergency sign, a directional sign for emergency and M.D. parking, a sign for a medical office building (which was just rejected by P&Z), a sign for the emergency entrance and parking, and the two cross logos.

Granted, the hospital is not a chain store. Patients must be able to find it and to quickly find the emergency entrance when necessary. Some leeway in the number of signs is necessary.

Even so, P&Z should allow only signs that respect the tradition of low-key signs in Blaine County, Ketchum and Sun Valley.

Big back-lighted blue logos on two sides of the hospital don’t meet the test of either necessity or good taste.


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