September 22, 2022 |

The Saratoga Hot Springs Resort cannot reinstall an oversized sign above their Base Camp outdoor rental shop. The resort’s request for a variance was denied this week after failing to garner enough support.

Councilman Ron Hutchins called for a motion to approve the sign variance. The motion did not receive a second, so the matter did not go to a vote. Mayor Creed James declared the matter dead.

The defeat comes after months of the issue bouncing back and forth between the council and the Saratoga Planning and Zoning Commission.

The failure of the variance request before council this week means that the Base Camp shop on Pic Pike Road across from the resort’s main building will have to install a smaller sign.

Earlier this year, the resort installed the oversized sign with lighting, without approval of any kind. Both the sign and the lighting needed a variance. After complaints from the public, the resort removed the lights and sign.

Town ordinance states that no business sign may be larger than 120 square feet in area. The Base Camp sign is 200 square feet. After removing the sign this spring, the resort went before the Saratoga Planning and Zoning Commission to request a variance. Lighting was not included.

Pictured above: The Base Camp sign that was originally installed. Photo courtesy Saratoga Hot Springs Resort.

On August 9th, the planning and zoning commission voted 3-2 against the request. Despite the board’s vote to deny the application, the topic came up at the Saratoga Town Council meeting a few days later. On August 16th, council hesitated then ping-ponged the resort’s request for a variance back to the planning commission for more public input and review.

At the September 13th planning meeting, the matter was discussed again and put to a second vote. The tally was a 3-3 tie, meaning that the request had failed a second time. The board sent the application back to the town council for a final decision.

At this week’s meeting, Mayor Creed James read a letter from town resident Dave Lawrence, who said he appreciates the resort. Lawrence added that a smaller sign would work just as well as the larger one.

The resort’s attorney, Alan Harding, again argued that the resort would be harmed by not having the larger sign. The resort’s attorney referenced Lawrence’s letter. He said that by not having the sign, the resort has lost out on sales.

Newly appointed Saratoga Councilwoman Kathy Beck joined the meeting remotely. She asked Harding if the resort had tried compromising with the council over the sign. Harding mentioned removing the lighting.

Councilman Jon Nelson said that the resort’s sign could be within the 120 square foot limit if a graphic was removed. Harding said that option could be explored but feared that the sign could be ruined in the process.

Councilman Hutchins supported the sign variance. He mentioned that the economy has been hard on everyone. Hutchins said the resort is important to the town.

Councilman Nelson said that the Base Camp shop is obviously open for business. People can see and access it. Nelson said that he doesn’t feel like the resort needs such a large sign.

When Mayor James called for a vote on the sign variance, only Councilman Hutchins motioned. No one seconded the motion, so it failed. The Saratoga Hot Springs Resort will not be able to put the sign back up. They will have to either alter the current sign or create a new one to stay within the town’s 120 square foot limit.

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