The changes were requested by the management of the Holiday Inn Express, which is one of two hotels currently located in the resort commercial zone on the north end of town.
Current city code limits signs in that zone to eight feet tall, and 24 square feet in overall size. The Holiday Inn Express requested an amendment to the code that would allow signs to be eight feet above highway grade and up to 110 square feet in size.
Denise Dragoo, the attorney for the Holiday Inn Express, said the hotel is requesting the change in response to a number of complaints about the visibility of the hotel’s current signage.
Dragoo said the hotel’s owners believe the code is inequitable because the Holiday Inn Express is the only hotel that is currently required to abide by the sign code. The Aarchway Inn is the only other hotel located in the zone, but because it was built before the area was annexed by the city, its sign is grandfathered in.
Jeramy Day, the Holiday Inn Express’s general manager, said customers regularly complain about the difficulty of locating the hotel.
“We have numerous guests that drive right by and miss us,” he said.
Day contends that when people drive into town, they’re generally looking up, taking in the scenery and so are likely to miss seeing the hotel’s sign.
“They’re not looking down,” he said.
Day pointed out that the hotel is located off a frontage road that is lower than the highway, which can make the sign even more difficult to see.
According to Day, the hotel does not want a “big, gaudy” sign.
“We’re not asking for the world,” he said. “We just need fairness and equality.”
He said the hotel’s owner, James Koehler, is mainly concerned with being able to locate the sign above the highway grade.
One visitor from Japan posted an online review suggesting that the hotel needs a larger sign. “The sign for the hotel and the hotel itself is down a hill and blocked by a huge sign for another hotel,” the reviewer wrote. “We drove by it before we realized it was there ... They should have a bigger sign on the highway or move their main sign up higher.”
The planning commission held a public hearing regarding the change on Nov. 14. Local realtor and developer Randy Day spoke in favor of the change. He said that, as the president of the Chamber of Commerce, he is always in favor of simplifying building codes.
“The simpler and more straightforward we can make the process, the easier I can sell it to the next guy,” Day said. “[The Holiday Inn Express sign] really is a hard sign to see.”
The planning commission was supposed to vote on the matter on Nov. 14, but the commission members unanimously agreed that they needed more time to consider the issue.
“This is not simple,” planning commission chairwoman Kelly Thornton said. “It’s not something we can look at in one night. It’s a big deal.”
Thornton suggested leaving the public hearing open to give residents more time to comment on the proposed change. The other commission members agreed.
Moab City Planning Director Jeff Reinhart said the code that is in place for the RC zone was developed with significant public input.
“I can’t stress enough all the effort that went into our north corridor plan that is now our resort commercial zone,” Reinhart said.
Planning commission member Wayne Hoskisson acknowledged that the driveway to the Holiday Inn Express can be hard to find, but he said changing the signage regulations would also affect future development in the RC zone.
“It’s not a real simple solution,” he said. “Whatever we do is going to apply to anything else that comes in on that strip.”
Thornton said that people who come to Moab enjoy the scenic cliffs and vistas that are visible when first arriving at the north end of town.
“We need to be cognizant of that,” she said.
The planning commission will accept public comments on the matter until its next meeting on Dec. 12.