It's back to the drawing board for developers of a massive, proposed new highway sign near the Days Inn on West Main Street.
Turlock Planning Commissioners on Thursday asked developers to come up with new, smaller alternative designs than the originally proposed 85-foot tall, 38-foot wide, multi-tenant sign, with 2,638 square-feet of advertising space for a total of nine businesses.
Commissioners and city staff alike were concerned that the proposed sign was so much larger than similar highway signs at Monte Vista Crossings or Countryside Plaza, which have 1,000 and 1,440 square-feet of advertising space respectively.
“It would be setting a new precedent,” said Turlock Planner Katie Melson. “It would be much larger than anything else we have.”
Any new sign would replace an existing 10 foot by 15 foot pole sign for Days Inn, which has become dilapidated and no longer meets Turlock's sign standards. Days Inn's owners cannot afford a new sign on their own, and partnered with developers of the in-progress shopping center at 1300 W. Main St. on the development.
That shopping center's developers, New Urban Communities Partners, will pay for much of the sign's construction costs, in hopes of attracting marquee anchor stores with prominent freeway advertising.
“This would expand our ability to attract tenants and provide additional opportunities for the entire area,” said Reed Onate, NUCP vice president. “… I think that this area deserves the same sort of opportunities for advertisement to draw those drivers off the freeway and bring sales tax dollars to the city.”
Commissioners and staff alike had no issue with some of the developers' requests. The 85-foot height, while taller than zoning district standards, is consistent with other highway signs. And the sign will be allowed to break rules against off-premises advertising with signs for businesses at the NUCP center, located more than 1,000 east of the Days Inn.
Mockups of the sign show Mi Pueblo Food Center and a Family Dollar as prospective tenants, but Onate said Thursday that NUCP was still in talks with both businesses and that neither was yet committed to the center.
Planning commissioners agreed with developers that freeway signage was needed, but took issue with the scope of the proposed sign.
“I'd like to see, when you drive down 99, there's a consistency in what you see (in terms of highway signs) in our city limits,” said Planning Commissioner Elvis Dias.
Commissioners directed the developers to prepare two alternatives: one with approximately 1,000 square-feet of advertising space, and one with about 1,200 square-feet of advertising space. The larger alternative would give slightly larger advertising spaces to Days Inn and Comfort Inn and Suites, as the total advertising square-footage for Days Inn would likely decrease with a new sign.
Each alternative would be about 22 feet in width, down from the proposed 38-foot width, and would be required to display advertising for six tenants.
The most notable change is in the advertising square-footage per business, down from about 300 square-feet per business to about 200 square-feet.
“The visibility is going to become an issue,” Onate said.
Onate wasn't entirely pleased with the smaller size, which he said could make businesses' names hard to read, but said he would return with the revised plans Turlock had requested.
Developers are expected to return with the new designs at the April 4 meeting of the Turlock Planning Commission.