Palisade trustees send gas station sign proposal back to drawing board

Palisade town trustees aren’t comfortable with a 60-foot-tall sign for a proposed gas station at the town’s exit off Interstate 70, but they want the developer’s project to succeed.

That was the message that emerged from a 3-hour public hearing Tuesday night on a citizens’ appeal of Golden Gate Pet-
roleum’s proposed 40-foot variance deviating from Palisade’s sign code. Town rules don’t allow signs taller than 20 feet.

Trustees unanimously agreed with residents’ appeal to deny the variance, but requested Golden Gate officials return with a compromise to the sign’s height and design — presumably a shorter sign and fewer flashing lights.

Chief Executive Officer and President Dennis O’Keefe told trustees the sign height might work if it were 50 feet tall. However, without a variance to the town’s code, the project likely wouldn’t go through, he said. A sign advertising fuel prices must be visible to traffic heading both ways on the interstate for the gas station to attract motorists, O’Keefe said.

The site planned for the gas station and convenience store is located 47 feet below the grade of the interstate, some Palisade officials said Tuesday night. A sign across Elberta Avenue for Grande River Vineyards tops out at 40 feet, but it was constructed under Mesa County rules, before Palisade adopted its sign code, officials said.

“We could live with a 50-foot sign, but below that we might as well not have any sign,” O’Keefe said.

He said Golden Gate is expected to close on the sale of the property today near the eastbound entrance to the interstate and wondered whether the purchase of the land could be delayed again pending a sign design that pleased trustees.

The Palisade Planning Commission last month allowed Golden Gate to locate their lighted, LED sign 60 feet high and allowed a variance of 200 additional square feet, or a total of 321 square feet, for a variety of signs.

Roughly 75 Palisade residents came out Tuesday night in support of the citizens’ appeal. Some said they did not want a gas station at all, while others said they were OK with the station but were opposed to the sign’s height. They did not want a sign to obstruct the area’s pastoral views or pollute the night sky. They also argued that offering one company a sign variance would set a precedent for other companies looking to do the same.

Trustee Susan L’Hommedieu said she, too, would miss the views that would be obstructed by a 60-foot sign.

“I think this will take some work and compromise, from you, too, not just from them,” she said, referring both to the audience and Golden Gate.


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Driving back into the valley today on I-70, I took good look at Exit 42, where Golden Gate Petroleum is proposing to put their 60 foot sign.

Palisade, DO NOT APPROVE THIS.  The stretch of I-70 at Exit 42 provides a truly spectacular entrance to the Grand Valley. First the Bookcliffs come into sight, then the vineyards and then the iconic Mt. Garfield and the National Monument across the valley. A 60-foot blazing lit gas price sign would sully this experience and diminish Palisade. Palisade needs to have the confidence to protect what its residents love best about it: it’s unique beauty and character. After all, isn’t that what restrictions on signage are for in the first place? Stick to your guns and keep what we all value about Palisade. If Golden Gate Petroleum doesn’t want to live within the limits, let them take their gas station elsewhere.

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