New mall gets sign of approval
After a few false starts, the developer of a new outdoor mall in Yuma finally got approval Monday to place an oversized sign along Interstate 8.
The approval came from three members of the city's Design Review Committee, including one member, Nate Schug, who owns an electric company doing work at the mall.
Schug stated that even though he has a conflict of interest because his company is doing work for WDP Partners - the Phoenix company developing Yuma Palms Regional Shopping Center - he is allowed by state law to vote as long as he states his conflict.
Schug said the city's legal staff had researched the issue and determined that Schug could vote on mall-related design issues, but only in cases where there wouldn't be a quorum without him.
The committee then approved the size and colors of the sign, but not without some initial confusion over exactly what it was supposed to be approving.
One commissioner thought the DRC was only approving the colors of the sign because the Yuma City Council had approved the size of the sign last week.
At that point Community Development Director Mike Steele stood up and explained that the council had not approved the size of the sign but had only approved a development agreement with WDP that placed the freeway sign under the final authority of the DRC.
The sign will be 80 feet high and 900-square-feet in area. Commissioners noted that, because the sign will sit in a 25-to 30-foot depression, it won't actually tower 80 feet in the air, but instead will be the same height as several other signs in the area.
One man spoke against the sign.
"I think the sign is way, way too big," said Paul Moreno. He said he had just moved here from California where it is next to impossible to remove a sign once it goes up.
"There's nothing wrong with saying no," Moreno said. He also suggested commissioners place a three-year limit on the sign.
Wally Chester, one of WDP's principal partners, attended Monday's meeting and apologized to the commission for the confusion surrounding the sign. He said WDP was as confused as the city council and city staff.
"We thought the sign was approved," Chester said. He blamed the magnitude of the 128-acre project and the fact that it's the first time the city has ever done anything like this.
"This is a whole new animal for all of us," Chester said.
As for the sign itself, he said it needs to be large because of the 15 major tenants the mall has.
"They all want their sign on the major arterial and they want it in the air," Chester said.
In voting for the sign, Schug said, "I think they're entitled to advertise their investment on the freeway."
Commissioner Gary Snyder said the sign will help draw positive attention to Yuma and, because it's below grade, it will blend into its surroundings better and will "maybe not (be) quite so garish."
The sign won't go up until just before the mall opens in November, Chester said. It will be located 57 feet from the edge of I-8 west of Castle Dome Avenue near the Shilo Inn.
The background color of the sign has been changed from kumquat to sea-foam green, Chester said. He said WDP tested the kumquat color on focus groups who read it as hot, which isn't the feeling the developers want to inspire.
T.M. Shultz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6852.