Apex shows signs it will give up fight with the city
A local security firm has apparently backed down from its fight with the city of Aspen and will provide signs more to the city’s liking outside its clients’ homes.The city has been running notices warning homeowners that security signs on display outside homes must comply with a new city ordinance, adopted in January 1999. Homeowners have been directed to replace their existing signs, most of which violate the new law, with an acceptable version.However, the most dominant supplier of area home-security systems, Apex Security, has been resisting the changeover, according to homeowners and city officials.Robert Blaich, a West End homeowner and chairman of the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission, said he called Apex last week and spoke to a Mr. Blake. Blaich said he was advised to pay no attention to the city’s directive, and that Blake hinted that litigation over the matter was in the offing.”He essentially told me just to ignore it,” Blaich said. “I said, `Well I can’t. I’m chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. I need to comply with city ordinances.’ “The P&Z backed the city’s new ordinance regulating the signs, Blaich added.Dan Blake, service manager at Apex’s Glenwood Springs office, denied advising homeowners to ignore the city’s directive.The company has received a number of calls recently from Aspen residents asking for signs that comply with the city ordinance and Apex plans to provide them, Blake said.”We are in the process of getting those signs for our clients who call for them in the city of Aspen.” he said.The city is pursing what zoning officer Sarah Oates termed “soft enforcement” of the ordinance at this time.Aspen has been running advertisements warning homeowners of the change in rules. “Then we will issue letters to property owners asking them to come into compliance,” she said.Ultimately, the city could take property owners who violate the ordinance to court. Noncompliance could result in fines of up to $300 per day for each day a property owner displays a sign that is out of compliance, said Oates, adding that she has no plans to pursue such drastic action.”Hopefully, we’re not going to have to do that,” she said.Though the ordinance regulating the signs was adopted more than a year ago, Oates has seen little compliance so far.”Most every place that has an Apex Security sign is not in compliance,” she said.The city adopted the new rules after some contentious debates over the function of the signs with representatives of Apex, which acquired Westec, the formerly dominant local security provider.City officials and some citizens argued the signs constituted advertisements for security firms and violated the city’s sign code regulating commercial signs. Apex officials argued the signs actually help promote security by warning that a home-security system is in place on a property.Apex’s ubiquitous 11-by-11.5-inch blue and white signs, typically posted near the front property line, are prohibited under the new ordinance.Instead, homes may display a security sign of up to 6-by-6 inches, that is neutral in color and displayed on the wall of the residence. For historical buildings, the sign should be placed three feet in front of the residence, according to the ordinance.
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