Oro Valley businesses will be granted a two-year extension on the use of temporary A-frame signs, non-profit signs, and outdoor displays after the majority of town council voted in favor of prolonging the practice until Feb. 1, 2016.
While the Oro Valley Zoning Code Revised does not permit outdoor displays or A-frames, council in 2011 approved their temporary use to combat a struggling national economy, and added non-profit signs to that list in 2012.
Initially set to expire on Feb. 3 of this year, members of council said they were not comfortable prohibiting temporary signage until the economy shows a more solid state of recovery.
While there was mutual agreement on the dais that the economy is still unstable, the length of the extension found mixed opinions, with council members Mike Zinkin, Brendan Burns, and Bill Garner preferring a one-year extension rather than two years.
“I think we can show by extending this for one year that we still have a continued interest in the success of businesses in the recession,” said Zinkin, who added he would support making such signage permanent once some of the kinks are worked out.
Mayor Satish Hiremath said a two-year extension shows good faith to businesses, and also helps stabilize the town through increased sales tax – important since the town does not have a property tax to supplement revenues.
During call to the audience, some residents said they are ready to see the signs come down.
Don Bristow argued that not only is the U.S. economy out of the recession, the signage makes Oro Valley less aesthetically pleasing. He said there is no indication signs are helping businesses at all.
“Staff has provided no factual or logical evidence to support this extension,” he said. “The town has never provided factual evidence that these work or directly contribute to any meaningful incremental sales tax inflow.”
Dave Perry, President and CEO of the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce said he supports a two-year extension, arguing there is more than enough evidence that signage relates to profitability for businesses.
Perry said he talked to 15 business owners in the prior two days that used A-frames. Of those, UPS claims to bring in 40-50 customers per month as a result, H&R Block said it increases business during at tax time by 15 percent, and The Joint sees 20 percent of its business coming from those signs. Similar results are true of outdoor displays, Perry said.
“It helps. I hear about it,” said Perry, adding that, “Silence (from the majority of residents) suggests consent.”
Resident Bill Adler took a middle ground on the issue, saying it should be tabled in consideration of the coming General Plan update, in which a broader level of citizen input could be achieved.
The motion for a two-year extension passed in a 5-2 vote.
In other business, council approved the rezoning of a plat of land on the northeast corner of Moore and La Canada roads from commercial to medium density residential.
The developer proposed a 19-lot subdivision on 4.9 acres, and an additional .78-acre portion of the parcel dedicated to natural open space.
Several property owners to the west, who were mainly worried about view preservation, filed a petition of concern with the town. Paul Oland, project manager at the WLB Group, agreed to minimize two story homes as much as possible in the areas that would most affect views of neighboring homes.
The development will move forward after a 7-0 council vote.