Snowmass Village eyes lighting up sign on Brush Creek Road |

Snowmass Village eyes lighting up sign on Brush Creek Road

The town of Snowmass Village’s latest attempt to circumvent Pitkin County’s sign code will be considered Wednesday by the county commissioners.

The town is asking for permission to place an 18-square-foot solar panel behind the large sign at the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road so it can be lit at night.

“It’s not currently lit, but they have permission to,” said Lance Clarke, Pitkin County’s deputy director of community development. But what town officials don’t have permission to do is install a large solar panel behind the sign in order to generate electricity for the lights.

According to a memo written by Clarke, the solar panel’s top edge would be eight feet above the ground.

The topic of the solar pane was first raised by Commissioner Jack Hatfield at a work session last month. Hatfield said it appeared Snowmass Village was planning to erect the panel without consulting the county.

“We didn’t approve a large, solar-power generating system when we originally OK’d the sign,” Hatfield said.

At the time of the proposal for the sign, in early 2000, the county’s sign ordinance did not allow it. The ordinance, enacted in the 1970s, makes it very difficult to build signs that are large or illuminated. It is widely considered a success by local citizens and other governments, because Pitkin County has been spared the worst excesses of the signing of America.

County staff recommended against amending the ordinance to allow the sign. But after the commissioners convinced the town to settle for a slightly smaller sign, they agreed to amend the sign code to allow “local government jurisdictional signs” up to 70 square feet in area.

The sign, about 68 square feet in area, reads, “SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Town Center 5.0 miles,” to all who turn off Highway 82 onto Brush Creek Road. It is the first in a series of signs that Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester says is meant to “reassure” and “comfort” visitors that they are indeed on the road to Snowmass Village. The solar panel would add about 20 percent to the area of the sign.

County staff is again recommending against the town’s request. Wrote Clarke in his memo: “The design, size and location of the proposed solar collector system is not necessary to the purpose of the sign, and would make the sign oversize, and will not greatly further assist the public in locating the jurisdiction.”

Clarke also pointed out that another electricity source is available if the town wants to light its sign at night.

The commissioners will take the request up after 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

[Allyn Harvey’s e-mail address is]

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