Feb 13, 2014 9:00 PM by Andy Koen

County dealing with sign issues in Falcon

EL PASO COUNTY - Take a drive through Falcon and you'll see them. Messages calling on drivers to "sell your home" "fix your furnace" or "vote for me."

A growing number of temporary and permanent signs crowd around intersections and along the roadsides in this part of the county.

"Basically, it just makes the place look ugly," said homeowner Ron Pace.

Beyond the unsightliness, Pace says he complained recently to the Board of County Commissioners because he is worried about the safety of drivers in his neighborhood.

Pace narrowly avoided an accident with another driver on Stapleton Drive who was temporarily blinded by sun glare reflecting off of a sign.

"We both stopped because I thought she was going to hit me and she said, 'oh I'm sorry, the sign caught my glare' and I looked back and noticed it was that sign."

The county highway department is responsible for enforcing improperly placed signs, but operations manager Max Kirschbaum says that's not so easy.

"If we clean an area and remove signs, it won't be long before others tend to show back up in those same places."

On primary county roads like Meridian Road or Stapleton Drive, signs can't be placed within 60 feet of the center line without a permit.

When he receives a complaint, Kirschbaum says he will attempt to contact a sign owner and ask them to remove it. If the owner is unresponsive, then his crews will pull the sign and store it the county public services yard on Akers Road.

"We take what we think is a very reasonable approach to solving the problem," Kirschbaum said.

However, finding the right of way boundary can be difficult when professional looking signs are also installed too close to the road.

Signs that advertise the Meridian Ranch golf course and steakhouse are set in cement just a few feet from the roadway. Some even have lights to illuminate the message at night.

County officials couldn't definitively say whether the developer or the Meridian Ranch Metro District had pulled permits before installing the signs.

Members of the non-profit organization the Falcon Exchange Club put up a similar, permanent sign along Stapleton after seeking permission from the Metro District.

Club member Bob Miller said the group didn't get a permit, but used the Meridian Ranch signs as a guide for where to position the sign.

It was the Falcon Exchange Club sign that Pace says caused the sun glare problem. He asked the commissioners to consider the safety concerns those permanent signs pose.

Commissioner Amy Lathen said in an email that she wanted county staffers to hold off from removing the signs until they could discuss the issue with the Falcon Exchange Club and members of Meridian Ranch. The commissioners plan to hold that meeting with stakeholders next week.


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