Controversial sign gets approval on appeal
September 18, 2015
A business located inside the Park City Tech Center will soon be able to join other tenants in advertising its services on the outside of the building. Wednesday, the Summit County Council overturned Community Development Director Pat Putt’s decision to deny StayParkCity.com an exterior sign.
Kenzie Coulson, director of StayParkCity.com, appealed the denial to the County Council, which acts as the appellate body.
The County Council voted 3-1 to uphold the appeal. Council member Roger Armstrong cast the dissenting vote while Claudia McMullin, who runs a business in the same building, recused herself from the conversation.
McMullin owns Hugo Coffee. A large sign advertising Hugo Coffee and the Park City Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Center hangs in an oversized window on the south side of the building.
According to Sean Lewis, Summit County Planning Department staffer, window signs are subject to a different set of regulations, allowing them to exceed the size of exterior signs.
With the council’s decision to uphold the appeal, StayParkCity.com can install a sign on the outside of the building as long as it meets other regulations pertaining to size and location. Coulson said the application process has been started and a sign could go up in less than a month.
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"We are absolutely excited," Coulson said of the council’s decision. "We had a little bit of miscommunication through our application process but it’s wonderful to see it resolved. We were confident that a precedent had been set and so what we were asking for is a determination of a plan that doesn’t have as much detail as it will in the future. I think it’s positive for the community in the end to see that some of these plans can be better clarified."
Signage at the Park City Tech Center is governed by a comprehensive agreement with the developer, The Boyer Company, that is unique to the building. It states that no more than four exterior signs be granted to major tenants, a term left undefined in the agreement. It is not subject to the county’s sign ordinance.
StayParkCity.com is as an online booking agent for lodging in Park City. The website was launched in July, but the company has been operating out of the Park City Tech Center since 2009. It shares space with a similar agency, All Seasons Resort Lodgings, which occupies 46 percent of the building.
As a tenant occupying nearly half of the building space, the sign agreement allows All Seasons Resort Lodgings to have two signs, one of which was granted to RyanTech, Inc. The business has since left and All Seasons Resort Lodgings agreed to grant the sign space to StayParkCity.com.
Putt told council members he based his determination on his interpretation of the term major tenant. Putt said he used the number of employees and square footage the business occupies as the parameters for making his decision.
"I determined that StayParkCtiy.com was not a major tenant," Putt said. "It was primarily the idea or the concept of findings that subleasing space and a limited amount of employees did not rise to my determination as major tenant."
Armstrong and council member Chris Robinson went back and forth about what qualifies a business as a "major tenant" and future implications of the council’s decision.
Based on Putt’s standards, Armstrong said he did not view StayParkCity.com as a major tenant. He expressed concerns that upholding the appeal opens the door for other businesses that may move into the development to request an exterior sign despite the size of their operation.
"Before we got here someone was handing out approvals like candy and I just hate for us to continue to make bad decisions that will affect other buildings as they come along," Armstrong testified. "The intent is to cut down on certain signs and really identify major players. The path you are going down is to twist an ordinance to fit this circumstance and it will come back to bite you. I think they are lovely people and they deserve a sign but this agreement doesn’t say that. The decision we make on this appeal will have to apply to every other building that gets built."
Council Chair Kim Carson and member Dave Ure weren’t as focused on the distinction between a business that is a major tenant and one that isn’t. Carson said it is the council’s duty to interpret the undefined term and make these kinds of decisions. As the major owner of nearly half the building, All Seasons Resort Lodging has the right to delegate a sign, Carson said.
"I think we have enough to protect ourselves from having people come in here and say, ‘I have the right to do this because they did this,’" Carson said.