The commission is advising the Moab City Council to reject a change that would allow the Holiday Inn Express to install a bigger sign just off U.S. 191.
Hotel representatives asked the city to approve an ordinance that would revise sign height regulations inside the zone on the north end of town. But planning commissioners voted 3-0 on Dec. 12 against a proposed amendment that would allow signs in the zone to rise eight feet above the highway grade and span up to 110-square-feet in overall size.
Commission members Joe Downard and Laura Uhle did not attend the Dec. 12 Moab City Planning Commission meeting.
Planning commission member Wayne Hoskisson said he believes the changes run contrary to the city’s northern gateway plan, which aims to create a positive first impression of Moab and Grand County.
“It does counter, I think, what was envisioned for that corridor,” he said.
As an alternative, Hoskisson suggested the hotel should consider the possibility of installing other signage that would fit within the city’s existing code.
“If there is a remedy, this is not it,” Hoskisson said.
Current city zoning regulations limit new sign heights in the area to a maximum of 8 feet, and set limits for illuminated signs at a total of 24-square-feet.
Denise Dragoo, the attorney for Holiday Inn Express, said the proposed changes would improve the visibility of the hotel, which rests below the highway grade off a frontage road. As it is, the top of the hotel’s sign is 10 inches below the crest of the highway, according to Holiday Inn Express general manager Jeramy Day.
A more prominent sign would be a significant upgrade for the Holiday Inn Express and its guests, who often have trouble finding the hotel during daylight hours, Day said.
The problem, he said, is that people who are driving into town are taking in the valley’s beautiful sights instead of looking down in the direction of the current sign.
Visibility aside, Dragoo called the signage issue a matter of equity, or fairness.
She said that other businesses in the resort commercial zone, including the Aarchway Inn, have larger signs that were grandfathered in when the city annexed the area.
Day, meanwhile, assured the planning commission that the hotel is seeking only modest changes to its signage.
“It’s not something gaudy that we’re asking for,” Day said. “It’s not going to be Vegas at all.”
For his part, Moab City Planning Director Jeff Reinhart said that signage doesn’t appear to be a problem, noting that there are two very large signs on the hotel building itself.
Likewise, planning commission chairwoman Kelly Thornton said that changes to the building have made it more visible over time.
In addition, she echoed Hoskisson’s concerns about the impacts that the changes could have on the city’s gateway plan.
“This is way too drastic,” Thornton said. “A lot of thought went into [that plan].”
Moab resident Diane Walker told the planning commission that she believes the plan is worth protecting.
“To just change this for one business seems like a radical departure,” Walker said.