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[whitespace] City learns about violation of city code from a citizen

Saratoga--In the latest episode of Know Your City Code--three longstanding commercial signs at the corner of Pierce Road and Congress Springs Road are likely to come down soon; all were in violation of a city sign ordinance and apparently remained unnoticed by Mountain Winery officials and city planners for years.

In recent weeks, a wary citizen alerted officials with the city's code enforcement department that the three signs, pointing drivers to the Mountain Winery, Saratoga Springs picnic ground and Savannah Chanel Winery, violated the code.

Officials would not identify the community watchdog, who had also contacted the Saratoga News about the transgression. The Mountain Winery sign breached a statute that prohibits commercial establishments from having two distinct signs on their own property. Another sign sits at the Mountain Winery entrance farther up Pierce Road.

The Saratoga Springs and Savannah Chanel signs, also on the corner of the Mountain Winery's property, violated a law that prohibits businesses from hoisting signs outside their own property.

Mountain Winery President Nancy Bussani said that when the most recent ownership group took over at the facility two and a half years ago, James Walgren, the city's community development director--now gone from Saratoga--assured Mountain Winery that there was nothing illicit about the signs.

Now, the city and Bussani will have to work on a compromise to solve this conflict.

Bussani's confident that city officials don't want those attending Mountain Winery events to miss the Pierce Road turn and get lost in the hills.

"We're dealing with pragmatic people," said Bussani. "The city realizes it doesn't do anybody any good to create confusion."

Saratoga Community Services officer Steve Prosser said the city would be amenable to the Mountain Winery installing a more discreet directional announcement at the same location.

As for the other two illegal billboards, Prosser said neither owner has contacted the city. But he's not quite as concerned with those erring establishments.

"They are in violation, but they're not as serious as the [Mountain Winery's sign]," Prosser said.

In general, Saratoga citizens don't take too many chances in running from the long arm of the code enforcement officers, added Prosser.

"Everybody's pretty good on compliance with city code, once they're told what's wrong," he said.
Oakley Brooks

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Web extra to the September 27-October 3, 2001 issue of Metro.

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