Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Freeway signs attracting legal controversy

From page A1 | February 03, 2012 |

Controversy is on the agenda at the next Planning Commission meeting on Feb. 9.

To be decided is the fate of three new highway signs proposed for Shingle Springs and Cameron Park. The applicant for the signs is Cameron Park attorney John David Pereira.

While county staff are recommending conditional approval of the permits, neither the applicant nor those opposing the signs are pleased with the decision.

Pereira is demanding approval of the signs as well as payment of $1,000 a day since Dec. 30, 2011. That is the day he claims the permits should have been granted and the $1,000 a day is revenue he claims has been lost since then. He also said he intends to put in a claim for attorney’s fees.

In dispute is whether adequate public notice was given by the applicant, the extent to which the signs will impinge on the rights of other business owners, and if the signs are compatible with the General Plan and design guidelines. Pereira has stated that he published the required notice in the newspaper but alleges that the county failed to hold a hearing within 60 days of publication according to the Permit Streamlining Act.

However, planners from the county disagree. Their report states, “The county disputes that the Permit Streamlining Act timelines were exceeded and disputes that appropriate notice was given to the public by Mr. Pereira in order to allow the project to be ‘deemed approved.’ However ,even if he is correct, and the application was in fact deemed approved on Dec. 30, 2011, that does not waive the public’s right to request a public hearing on the Special Use Permit applications … or the public’s right to an appeal of the ‘decision’ by the Development Services…”

In response to the project, different business owners have lodged written objections due to the impact of the signs on their property. Gary Wardlaw, who owns Shingle Springs Honda, opposes the sign on Mother Lode Drive because it will reduce freeway visibility of his business. Don Ricketts, who also owns a building in Shingle Springs, claims he paid a premium in order to have freeway visibility for his tenants and that visibility will be reduced if the sign near his property is approved.

In addition, Dyana Anderly of Cameron Park has filed an objection. A retired city planner and current member of the Cameron Park Design Review Committee, she finds the signs offensive because they are “bigger and larger than anything we’ve ever had. The people who would benefit most are the owners of the billboards, but the property owners where the signs will be located won’t benefit as much. Meanwhile every resident in this community is going to have these things in their face.”

Anderly stated that she doesn’t believe that Pereira adequately notified the public regarding the signs. She says that the county never made the determination that the signs were categorically exempt from CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) when the attorney placed the notification in the newspaper. She says he cited the law incorrectly.

She also believes that the signs are at odds with many aspects of the county’s General Plan, County design guidelines, and the 2030 Vision Statement of Cameron Park. She also expressed frustration that only property owners adjacent to the property where the signs are to be located were notified rather than the general public. She plans to be at the meeting to speak out against the project.

An item to be taken up separately by the Planning Commission in closed session is potential litigation by Pereira against the county for the additional conditions attached to approval of the signs.

The Feb. 9 Planning Commission meeting starts at 8:30 a.m. It is held at 2850 Fairlane Court, Placerville.





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