|This proposed development on Sheldon Road is at the center of a push to change the city's hard fought 2006 sign ordinance.|
In a discussion that saw several people speak for and against a proposed change to the city's billboard ordinance, the Elk Grove City Council gave staff muddled instructions to come back with a report on possible modifications to city's sign ordinance that would permit offsite billboards.
At the heart of the matter was a request from developer Gil Moore who is seeking to locate a billboard along Highway 99 for a combination gas station fast food restaurant on Sheldon Road and East Stockton Blvd. Because it is not located directly adjacent to the highway, current city regulation forbid Moore from locating a billboard there.
Moore's is seeking the billboard at the behest of one the developments prospective anchor tenants, McDonald's. Susan Green who represents the fast food giant said without the sign, the restaurant would not get the desired traffic and would probably not be located there.
During the public comment section several spoke in favor and opposing the proposed ordinance change with one person pointing out that Moore had made significant contributions to several of the city council members.
"There has been a tremendous amount of money contributed from Mr. Moore's group," Elk Grove resident Ed Owen said. Owen went on to suggest that Moore contact the property owners who are adjacent to the freeway and see if he could locate his billboard there.
During council deliberation Council Member Gary Davis agreed that the best way to handle this would be to see if Moore is willing to contact the other property owners and see if he could make a sign arrangement with them. Davis also noted that when the ordinance was passed in 2006 it was done with a long term vision and that changing it might betray that vision.
"It is a matter of public trust," Davis said.
For his part, during deliberations Council Member Steve Detrick pointedly addressed the comments from Owen and noted that campaign contributions are strictly regulated and adhered to. "It is very expensive to run a campaign," he added.
Detrick also noted that economic conditions are much different now that in 2006 and that should be taken into consideration. "I support bringing this back with more public input," he said.
Mayor Jim Cooper wryly noted the interest and the time spend on this matter while at the last meeting there was no public comment on the more important multi-million dollar city budget.
With the council's deliberations meandering and obtuse, city staff was essentially asked to prepare a report with possible changes to the sign and bring the matter back at some future date.
Immediately following the meeting a city planner was asked to clarify what the council's directions were and he said that he would view the video tomorrow to verify what the councils actual direction was. City manager Laura Gill also said that because the modification would involve an ordinance change, it would have to be heard by the planning commission before coming back to the city council.
In the lobby outside the council chambers developer Moore expressed frustration with the proceedings. When asked if he understood what the directions were, Moore replied "I have no idea."
Shortly thereafter Moore and members of his family became engaged in a shouting match with a party opposing the proposed ordinance change. Perhaps the lack of clarity coming from the dais affected both sides of the issue.