Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bad sign

A rooftop sign standing 8 feet high is not who we are in the Sun Valley area, even if it's designed to call attention to the visitors center located in Ketchum.

The sign would not only violate a city ordinance that limits the kinds of signs the commercial operations may erect, it would violate the city's sense of itself.

That's why the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission rightly sent the sign's designers and supporters packing.

The sign would have spelled out Sun Valley paired with the international symbol for information. It looked like a sign that would have topped an old warehouse or train station in a large urban area. It was the brainchild of an architect who volunteered to help redesign an old bank building now owned by the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency.

Apparently, someone thought the city might throw out its own sign ordinance, or allow the sign to slip through a loophole that exempts signs on government buildings from the city's ordinance.

The proposal exhibited a lack of understanding and serious ignorance of the history of regulating signs in Ketchum.

Before regulation, sign wars were gearing up. A small hotel fought a court battle trying to keep a nearly three-story brightly backlighted sign that could be seen a quarter mile from Main Street.

With regulation, the city declared that signs should not compete for attention with the pristine landscape and that it rejected the visual din of urban areas.

The Sun Valley area is many things—the Milky Way on dark nights, the grace of golden aspens and snow pillows on a January morning. It's a tough hike and a lilting symphony on the same day.

But 8-foot rooftop signs it's not.

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