By Kathleen Sloan
The Truth or Consequences City Commission, after executive session on Tuesday, May 8, voted to have the land and location of the Riverbend Hot Springs sign surveyed on Austin Street – near, but not on that businesses’ property.
The Riverbend is owned by the Foerstner family, including Planning & Zoning Commissioner Lee Foerstner. Community Director Bill Slettom, who now oversees code enforcement, in an interview on Tuesday, May 22, said David Senn has been hired by the city for $850 to do the survey.
Slettom said such expense is “necessary due diligence to determine exactly where that sign is.” He said there is some question whether it is on Bureau of Reclamation or city public property.
The county assessor’s map shows the sign is located on unplatted city public property.
Asked why a costly survey is necessary if the sign is on publically owned property in either case, thus making the sign illegal as an encroachment on public property and as an off-site sign, Slettom said, “The sign has been there since 1944.” Slettom also said the city is considering a land swap with the Foerstners.
Acknowledging that no grandfathering clause exists in the 2007 adopted sign code, Slettom says he is unwilling to make pronouncements on how the sign code should be enforced for this sign.
The code does address this issue, however. Under 11-13-2.9E1, it says any nonconforming sign without a permit granted before the 2007 code went into effect is illegal. No such permit was issued for this sign.
Slettom said the city is searching for a permit.
This reporter did an Inspection of Public Records Act request for such a record some months ago, and the result was a permit issued by Building Inspector Charlie Friberg in November 2011. If the city comes up with a permit issued prior, it will prove an IPRA violation for not providing it before now.