Looky-loos lost in Breck
BRECKENRIDGE – Phylecia Platte spent hours Friday placing signs around the county to direct people to the 16 homes showcased in this year’s Summit County Builders Association’s Parade of Homes.And within hours, all the signs in Breckenridge were gone – guilty of violating the town’s sign code.”We’re showcasing Summit County stuff, builders and contractors are showing off their stuff,” said Platte, the chair of the builders association. “I understand the rules, but it would be nice if we could have an exemption from their sign code for this event, especially given the number of people coming up (from the Front Range).”The event continues this Saturday and Sunday and showcases 16 residences, including six in Breckenridge. This is the 10th year the builders association has hosted the event, and the first that it’s had its signs yanked. Other towns in Summit County do not have the same codes, and signs promoting the Parade of Homes stayed in place.Breckenridge town sign code enforcement official Chris Neubecker said the purpose of sign code is to eliminate clutter and a tourist-trap atmosphere.
“The code doesn’t allow off-site signage or signs in public rights of way,” he said, adding that in the past, real estate signs are the most difficult to enforce. “It’s to protect the unique beauty of town. We need to control signage and not allow free-for-all signage.”The code is also designed to deter giving preferential treatment to individual industries. The Parade of Homes, Neubecker said, benefits builders and real estate brokers.”We asked the town council about this a year ago, and they didn’t want to make an exemption for Parade of Homes,” Neubecker said. “They need to be strict with sign code; they can’t make exemptions for one type of business over another type of business.”Platte said the parade benefits the entire town.More than 1,300 people – about half of whom Platte believes were from the Front Range – visited her home in The Highlands on Saturday. And that translates into a lot of money for local restaurants, lodging companies, builders and others, Platte said.The group placed directional signs out last Friday morning, Platte said, and took them down that evening. They put them back up Saturday morning, and by noon on Sunday, all the signs were gone.
“People slowed to a trickle,” she said. “People were coming in complaining. So we put out more signs at 2, and by 4, they were all gone.”Neubecker said he took down about 15 signs.”They were warned ahead of time,” he said. “They asked if they were allowed, we told them it was not permitted, and they did it anyway.”He plans to be out again next weekend to make sure the builders association isn’t violating town rules.But now, the association is out of signs, and Platte expects to see more of what she saw last weekend this weekend.”As I’m replacing signs in the middle of the day, they drive by, they back up or make a U-turn, they’re trying to read house numbers,” she said. “The Highlands is a bit of a maze, and Moonstone isn’t easy to find, either. There are maps in the book, but you can’t take a little tiny map and try to find your way to Moonstone. You’ll just be wandering around the hills of Breckenridge. Next week, we’ll have 1,000 to 1,500 people trying to visit homes in Breckenridge who will have a heck of a time finding them.”
Platte said the association doesn’t know if it will make more signs because it fears town officials will pull them out of the ground as fast as they are placed.”I’d hoped the town would be a little more cooperative,” Platte said. “This isn’t a Realtor’s open house where a sign is up for six months until they sell the home. This is a public event. But we’ll talk to the town; see if we can work it out for next year.”That might not be likely. The town only allows exemptions for large, civic events that bring lots of people to town, Neubecker said. Those exemptions then encourage other large corporations to sponsor events and draw even more people here.”The town council or planning commission could grant a variance, but only in extenuating circumstances,” he said. “We don’t consider this an extenuating circumstance.”Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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