A new business in town has unintentionally ignited a debate over signage laws and city property after Page city staff made public an ongoing discussion between the business and city officials at a Page City Council meeting.
According to a memo written for council by Community Development Director Kim Johnson, Lake Powell Vacation, located in “Block 17” of the downtown area of Page was “displaying rental equipment on the sidewalk in front of the business, including the portion owned by the city. The business was asked to discontinue this practice and they complied. A short time later the business parked a trailer with a [paddle bike] and a rental sign in a parking stall along North Navajo Drive.”
The memo reads that the business owners were told they “must comply with the City of Page Zoning Ordinance regarding signage, and storage and/or display of merchandise/equipment, and that no storage or display of the trailer and/or equipment is allowed without permission from the Page City Council, as the property is owned by the city.”
The memo goes on to state that the business owners “objected” to the claim, “citing the use of parking stalls for parking of commercial vehicles used in the operation of another business in the complex.”
“While an argument could be made that there is a difference between commercial vehicle parking and display and/or storage of rental equipment and signage, the use of the city-owned parking lot for any purpose is a policy issue that must be decided by the city council,” the memo concluded.
Councilmembers immediately suggested that they table the discussion to meet with City Attorney Josh Smith and go over the issue with due diligence before the next council meeting.
The owners of Lake Powell Vacation were present at the meeting and said that the memo, which was publicly available, made false claims about the events leading up to the meeting.
The business owners said that they never outright “objected” to being told to remove the trailer in the parking lot, but rather asked the city why other tour companies in the same block were allowed to keep their tour vehicles in similar locations. They said they were never given notices to desist for either the trailer or displaying rental equipment, but were instead engaged in an ongoing discussion with Planning and Zoning Director Robin Crowther to determine how they could legally set up the trailer and paddle bike after a city employee suggested it.
Secondly, the owners said that they were not notified that they had been put on the agenda for a public meeting until a few hours before the meeting. However, city staff didn’t inform them. They were instead notified by Page resident Arleen Miller, who had looked at the council agenda.
Miller also spoke to council, showing a certified letter from former city staff in 1995. She read the letter out loud, saying that it dictated the sidewalk immediately in front of businesses in Block 17 is under the ownership of the businesses, while the parking lot is under the ownership of the city.
One of the business owners, with a calm disposition simply told council:
“If you guys could just do your legal counsel and let me know what I need to do to have my trailer there. [I think] it probably will be pretty easy to figure out what I’ll need to.”
Johnson apologized to council and the owners, saying that there was likely some miscommunication and misinformation passed between other city staff when the issue was brought to her attention.
Johnson told council they weren’t looking to specifically target Lake Powell Vacation, but rather use the debate as a launch pad for structuring clear and simplified rules for advertising on city property.