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8/20/2013 11:53:00 AM
Sandoval sues city of Williams over Love's sign variance
Complaint filed Aug. 9 also alleges open meeting violations
Local gas station owner Chuck Sandoval filed a complaint asking that four sign variances that the city granted to a planned Love's Travel Stop be denied.
Local gas station owner Chuck Sandoval filed a complaint asking that four sign variances that the city granted to a planned Love's Travel Stop be denied.

Marissa Freireich
Williams-Grand Canyon News Reporter


A Flagstaff lawyer representing local gas station owner Chuck Sandoval filed a complaint with the Superior Court of Arizona against the city of Williams Aug. 9.

In the complaint, lawyer Tevis Reich claims that "The Board of Adjustment erred in approving and granting" four sign variances to a Love's Travel Stop planned for north of I-40 near the RV Park and Quality Inn. The complaint asks for a stay in issuing the variances, that the variances be denied and that the city pay attorney fees.

Sandoval owns a Shell and a Mobil gas station in Williams, which have the same zoning requirements as the planned Love's station.

On July 11 Williams City Council members (acting as the Board of Adjustment) unanimously approved a variance for Love's to erect a large freestanding sign advertising the gas station and displaying current gas prices. The council also approved variances allowing for additional signage.

Love's asked for the variance so truckers could easily see the sign, have enough time to maneuver on the interstate and know where to stop safely.

Williams has an ordinance in place stating the maximum height for a freestanding sign should not exceed 60 feet with a maximum size of 300 square feet. A typical Love's high-rise sign is more than 1,000 square feet, but Love's reduced the size to 558 square feet to accommodate the city's ordinance.

In the past, the Williams City Council has granted sign variances for Olson's Grain, Best Western Motel, McDonald's, Chevron and Holiday Inn. The Mobil Station has three freestanding signs on site with only one legal street frontage sign.

Sandoval's complaint alleges that council members made three errors in granting the sign variances.

The first error was that the board did not use the proper criteria to legally issue a variance, according to the complaint.

The complaint contends that the board granted the variances based on circumstances that "were not a qualifying special circumstance and were self-imposed in any instance." This goes against the criteria in the city code for granting a variance, according to the complaint.

The second error is that the board did not make the factual findings that the city code requires for granting a variance, according to the complaint.

The third error is that the board did not allow Sandoval to "cross examine witnesses," which is a right outlined in the city code, during the July 11 meeting, according to the complaint.

A separate part of the complaint alleges open meeting law violations by the city council acting as the Board of Adjustment. According to state statutes, the city must provide notice before meetings take place and meetings must be open to the public. A gathering of four council members constitutes a quorum.

The complaint alleges that council and board members Don Dent, John Moore, Lee Payne, Bernie Hiemenz and Frank McNelly and City Manager Brandon Buchanan met at Wild West Junction, which Moore owns, to deliberate the sign variances.

City officials were unavailable for comment as of press time.

A court date is set for Aug. 26 at 3 p.m. at 200 N. San Francisco St. in Flagstaff.

Related Stories:
• Judge dismisses Love's Travel Stop lawsuit


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: the truth

to "I like cheap gas".

It has nothing to do with competition. There are already gas stations all over town that provide the competition that you so fondly speak of.

. Chuck Sandoval doesn't own all the gas stations in town.

What Chuch doesn't like is that the council is granting Loves a sign ordinance variance, giving them a unfair advertising advatage. I guess it is too much to ask for a business to come to town and follow the rules, and not ask for SPECIAL FAVORS from the city council.



Posted: Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Article comment by: I Like Cheap Gas

Chuck just doesn't like "competition". It will be nice to be able to buy gas in town again. Currently I can't justify the price and the closest I buy gas is Bellemont. It would be good to be able to spend my money where I actually know someone that works there.

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013
Article comment by: sour grapes

You guys are just jealous because Chuck Sandoval is a hometown boy who has become a very successful business man.

If you don't like his prices, then buy gas at Cowan & Macgees, or Wagnors. How much do the Olsen's charge for gas at their Shell Station next to Dennys?

All this hate towards Chuck is pathetic.

Hope you win Chuck!!!!!


Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013
Article comment by: You are CRAZY

It is just another gas station and probably some sort of fast food. It isn't like Google wanted to open up shop. Jobs???, like what, working for minimum wage as a cashier inside the convience store?? WooHOO!!! It is just more of the same.

Sandoval has every right to sue the city for changing the rules for Loves. Just because councils of the past have given a ok to grant a variance of the sign ordinance doesn't mean it is the proper thing to do. There are plenty of other gas stations for price conscience consumers to do business with. If Sandoval wasn't doing any business, then he would be out of business. He has employees too!!! He pays taxes.

Like Lunacy said, does Sandoval get to have two signs that are twice as big as allowed?


Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013
Article comment by: Town Resident

I thought this was a small town with no problems between the citizens of good ole' Williams. But I was wrong of course. I truly see no problem in what Mr. Sandoval is doing if he feels what the city is doing for Love's is unfair he should be able to fight for what's right that is what the USA is all about people. And to read some of these comments saying they want to put a sign on the highway saying keep going gas is cheaper is ignorant. If you were to put yourself in Mr. Sandoval's shoes, you too would feel the need to fight for what is right. And you would also want to make money, who wants to make a couple cents off a gallon of gas?

Posted: Sunday, August 25, 2013
Article comment by: Williams Resident

While it is Sandovals right to charge as much as he wants...it is the Town Council's job to look out after the greater good of the town. Cheaper gas will not only help local residents but help tourism. Sandovals pricing has hurt and continues to hurt the town.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: Patrick Lucus

The city has a legitimate right to issue a sign variance, and there are several other businesses with sign variances. To not consider the variance would have been to treat Love’s unfairly. I applaud actions by the City that will bring new business, new jobs, and better prospects for the other businesses (motels/restaurants) in town since more drivers will stop here. Sounds like a case of “sour grapes” its disgusting that a local business owner would sue the residents, who will now have to defend this ridiculous lawsuit in court with tax dollars. Shame!!!

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2013
Article comment by: lunacy continues

It is Mr. Sandovals right to charge as much or little for gas as he wants. It is your right as a consumer to not purchase from him if you don't like the price.

It is wrong for the council to change the rules for any one business and give them an unfair advantage with bigger then allowed signage. It is not the City's job to "create" competition. It is not like there aren't any other gas stations in town.

Why have a ordinance at all? Can Chuckie put up a 558 square foot sign at both his stations, or does he have to conform to the ordinance while Love's does not?


Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: Daniel Jacoby

I am assuming that when the City of Williams is sued, the money used for a legal defense and argue the lawsuit comes from the general funds. These general funds are 'funded' in a large part by the local businesses and citizens. Therefore shouldn't the headline read "Sandoval Sues the Businesses and Citizens of Williams..."? Is it wise for a busines to sue its own customers and community? The only winners in a lawsuit are the attorneys no matter who wins everyone else loses.

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2013
Article comment by: hope you win Chuck

Why do all the big corporations get special treatment? Why change the rules for them? If you want to open a business in town, then follow the rules. Why the council gave them such a break is very curious, aren't they just another gas station?

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: Ron Pauly

Sandoval, making friends! I always feel like putting a sign near their stations, saying keep on going for cheaper gas!

Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: Gwen Taylor

I never gas up at that Shell station. Highest prices I've ever seen. I am so happy to see Love's coming to town. And now that I know about the Mobil, never again.

And his lawsuit against Williams is laughable.


Posted: Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Article comment by: Way to go Chuck! .

Nice to see a local not follow the 'good ole boys network' and stand up for what is right, fair and just!

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Article comment by: Williams Gas Buyer

and the fourth error the Town Council made is, by its actions, to force Mr Sandoval to reduce his gas prices from some of the highest in the state to compete

Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Article comment by: Whodunnit McGee

Aww.... sounds like Mr. Sandoval is upset he wont be able to charge 80 cents a gallon more than the loves, or anywhere else in town anymore......


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