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.
Posted: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Article comment by:
You go Chuckie!!!
There was absolutely NO reason to grant any variance of the sign ordinance for Loves. If Loves wants to come to town then that is just fine and dandy, but don't change or bend the rules for the BIG guy. The reasons listed for the variance are a absolute JOKE! Even the way they are presented by the reporter, "Loves reduced the size to 588 square feet to accomodate the city ordinance" is biased. It should read they proposed a sign of 588 feet which does NOT conform to the sign ordinace of 300 feet.