Advertising on ‘Welcome to Moffat County’ mural violates federal, state highway beautification laws | CraigDailyPress.com

Advertising on ‘Welcome to Moffat County’ mural violates federal, state highway beautification laws

Craig Chamber of Commerce currently working with CDOT to remedy

— The historic drive-in movie theater screen east of Craig has gone from crumbling eyesore to a large mural welcoming visitors, but the beautification project was thrown a curveball this spring.

Earlier this year, the Craig Chamber of Commerce learned from the Colorado Department of Transportation that the sponsorship banners were potentially in violation of outdoor advertising laws.

"That law is to prevent having a billboard every 100 feet. Our role is to follow what state lawmakers have put in place as well as the federal laws," said Dan Rossin, CDOT Region 3 permit supervisor. "We recognized that this wasn't a blatant act. It was really an honest mistake but we still need to correct it in the future."

The theater screen is outside of the highway right-of-way, but CDOT is also responsible for regulating outdoor advertising "out to visibility," said Allan Clubb, CDOT coordinator of outdoor advertising and events.

The Chamber was approached by CDOT, but hasn’t recieved clear communication about the issue, said Chamber Executive Director Chris Oxley.

"The Chamber has been waiting for information, to see the regulations and to understand the options before taking any action," Oxley stated in an email.

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Steve Baker at 3 B Enterprises — owner of the theater screen — and property and advertising sponsors are open to change.

Clarion Inn Manager and advertising sponsor Shannon Moore worked for the Chamber when the mural project began and said, "it's another curve ball in a project that was meant to be fun, to beautify town and make it look inviting."

How did it happen?

The violation is not uncommon for Colorado communities and businesses.

"It's not unusual for these things to come up… most towns don't know we regulate out to visibility. It's not a case that (the Chamber) knew the regulation and did it anyway. (The Chamber) has done everything (they) needed to do," Clubb said.

Highway Beautification Laws

Federal and state laws govern outdoor advertising along interstate highways and highways that use federal funding, including:

The Federal right-of-way and environment part 750 — "Highway Beautification" regulations

Colorado Department of Transportation – rules governing outdoor advertising in Colorado 2 CCR 601-3

Noticing the ad banners on a trip through Craig last year, Rossin asked Clubb to check into the matter.

Clubb recalls giving advice that the mural would be compliant, "as long as there were not any brand names or company names. The mural is considered under free speech as long as it doesn't have advertising."

Exemptions have been granted to some historic signs and murals, but in this case changes will have to be made to the advertising banners.

What's next?

"In these cases, we come up with a solution and a timeline to get this cured," Clubb said.

The Chamber will have to go through the CDOT outdoor advertising permitting process that costs $25 and usually takes 10 days to two weeks, Rossin said.

Two programs — the Colorado Logo Sign and the Tourist-Oriented Directional Signing program — for the state of Colorado might allow the Chamber to legally increase the amount of advertising near the theater screen.

"That's handled by Colorado Logos, Inc. and is certainly an option," Rossin said.

Support for the project remains strong

"I have the utmost faith that when they (the Chamber) get the update that they will alert the sponsors and figure out a new plan and go forward. It saddens me that CDOT is making this an issue," Moore said.

Bank of Colorado Craig Branch President Tami Fager said that she's excited about the project and willing to consider other options.

MJK and Ace Hardware Owner Lorraine Kawcak has concerns about the size of the banners that she thought would be larger; however she said, "I am open to listening to ideas they may have."

Baker thought about tearing down the theater screen, but he likes what the Chamber has done with the project and continues to support it. He's even willing to consider placing sponsor signs along his property line if it will help.

"You'd be amazed at how many people come by even before the Chamber improvements," he said. "We are in it for the long haul."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com or follow her on Twitter @CDP_Education.

Highway Beautification Laws

Federal and state laws govern outdoor advertising along interstate highways and highways that use federal funding, including:

The Federal right-of-way and environment part 750 — “Highway Beautification” regulations

Colorado Department of Transportation – rules governing outdoor advertising in Colorado 2 CCR 601-3