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Aspen revamping sign code

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart The Aspen Times
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ASPEN – Aspen’s sign code – always a source of consternation among those who think it’s too strict or too lax – is undergoing revisions yet again.

A few years ago, the city loosened its regulations, allowing businesses to place sandwich board-style signs out in the public right of way. Now, it may back off on that approach after a proliferation of the signs last summer generated complaints, according to Drew Alexander, a city planner. Other code changes are also proposed.

The public and business community are invited to a June 4 meeting, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Sister Cities Room at City Hall, to discuss what has been proposed before the code revisions go to the City Council, Alexander said Tuesday. He spoke at a meeting of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors.

The new regulations, as currently proposed, will still allow sandwich board signs for restaurant and retail businesses, but the establishment’s physical orientation to the street would be a determining factor in whether such a sign is permitted, Alexander said.

When the signs first appeared on sidewalks and pedestrian malls, they called attention to stores and restaurants that weren’t easily visible from the street. These days, they appear outside many street-level storefronts and eateries.

“There will be a significant reduction in the number of sandwich-board signs in the city,” Alexander said.

In addition, the city is looking to make the code more workable in how it allots signs for commercial buildings. Currently, allowable sign space is based on the size of the building. In the case of buildings that contain multiple businesses, that allotment must be divvied up among the tenants.

Under the worst-case scenario, a new business opens in a building and discovers all of the buildings’ allowed signage is already in use. “So, you can’t even put up a sign,” Alexander said.

The new code proposes a per-business sign allotment. All retailers and restaurants would get 6 square feet of sign space per facade. If a business moves, it can take its sign with it, Alexander said.

A ban on neon and back-lit signs would continue under the new code, he added.

Brad Jasicki of Replay Sports, an ACRA board member, urged Alexander to contact local sign makers and draft a code that uses the standard sizes available for sandwich-board signs. Jasicki said he has been notified that his sign is too big and needs to be made smaller.

“I have a $250 sign. To make that fit the code, it’s a $565 sign, because it’s an odd size,” he said. “It’s a big price increase for people who have to custom-make a sign.”

Quizzed about whether the city will try to use its code to ensure aesthetically pleasing signs, Alexander called that issue tough to regulate. Dictating what materials can be used in sign construction may help further that goal, he said.

“That’s one of the big discussions we’ll have at City Council,” he said.

janet@aspentimes.com


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