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Council To Revisit Bright Sign Issue

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Councilor Ken Sanchez says he will continue fighting for restrictions to keep electronic billboards off Unser and Coors, both major thoroughfares on the West Side.

Albuquerque city councilors are scheduled to revisit a controversial set of restrictions pertaining to electronic signs at their next council meeting on Oct. 17.

Sanchez wants Unser and Coors included in an ordinance that would update the city’s zoning code. A version of the ordinance discussed by the City Council this week included a ban on electronic signs along Alameda, Griegos, Rio Grande and Tramway.

Some West Side residents felt that was unfair because it didn’t offer the same protections to any roads west of the Rio Grande.

“The current legislation is an inequitable application of the law and policy because it protects East Side interests from these signs but not West Side residents,” said Joe Valles, chair of the West Side Coalition of Neighborhood Association’s land-use committee.

Valles was on a task force that included members of the sign industry and commercial interests. It recommended limits on brightness, moving images and other sign characteristics.

A bill sponsored by Councilor Isaac Benton incorporating the recommendations narrowly won approval in August. Sanchez voted for it, but Councilor Dan Lewis, who represents the northern portion of the West Side, voted no.

After Mayor Berry vetoed the bill, Benton produced a new version that included language banning electronic signs on Alameda, Griegos and Rio Grande. Sanchez proposed an amendment to include Coors and Unser.

He said West Side planning documents approved in 1997 and updated in 2002 contained provisions to preserve “view corridors.”

“I felt it was necessary to protect them (those provisions) with this legislation,” Sanchez said.

Lewis has said the existing plans already provide protections.

Councilors discussed Benton’s latest bill on Wednesday and initially approved Sanchez’s amendment. Then, in a complex and unusual procedural move, the council voted to strip the just-approved Coors and Unser amendment from the legislation and deferred the bill until their next meeting.

After the Wednesday meeting, Lewis said he is open to legislation that would prohibit the proliferation of new electronic signs providing it is equitable and makes sense for the entire city.