July 11, 2022 |

In Saratoga, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing tomorrow night for the request of a variance for an illuminated business sign at 602 Pic Pike road that was installed earlier this year.

The sign for Base Camp, an outdoor adventure store, apparently violates several town ordinances. It’s mounted on a roof top in obvious violation of 18.63.010 which states “no rooftop signs or billboards.” The billboard is illuminated at night with unshielded floodlights, another violation under general sign regulations. The offending billboard also appears to be bigger than the 120 square feet allowed under 18.63.040. This same ordinance also states that signs in retail business districts may be permitted after review and approval by the zoning officer, which did not happen.

According to town officials, the business owner or his representative was on the agenda for a March planning meeting to request a variance but failed to appear. The sign went up without approval.

Base Camp is part of the Saratoga Hot Springs, which is owned by Dr. Michael Janssen.

At the same time Janssen is negotiating these violations over the Base Camp sign, he’s also trying to broker a land deal with the town. As Bigfoot 99 reported previously, Town Council and Janssen are exploring a possible land swap. Each unused property, the town’s and Janssen’s, is less than a half-acre in size. Janssen’s is a strip along Pic Pike Road adjacent to the future site of the Never Forget Memorial Pike. The town’s land, which is slightly larger and valued at $17,500 more than Janssen’s, is located at the southeast corner of Myrle and Veterans on the overlook. To the south of the town lot, Janssen owns several acres of land that run to the Forest Service compound. The properties all connect on the east by the river at the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort’s golf course and other holdings.

Although the town land is worth more than Janssen’s, Mayor Creed James characterized the deal as a straight across swap, with Janssen kicking in a $25,000 gift. The characterization came at the June 21st meeting. The mayor was responding to a question from Councilman Ron Hutchins about the terms of the contract.

Pictured above: Photo courtesy Saratoga Hot Springs Resort.

The land swap is also subject to a public hearing, which is scheduled for July 19th at 5 p.m. Councilman Jon Nelson, also at the June 21st meeting, questioned moving forward with the land deal while the Base Camp was in flagrant violation of town ordinances. Nelson said that no matter what issues were raised about the land deal at the public meeting, he would not vote for a real estate contract while violations were outstanding.

The wall refers to another ongoing situation between the resort and its neighbors. The issue involves an unstable wall that was built without town approval.

Tomorrow night’s planning commission meeting regarding the request for a variance for the Base Camp sign will be held at the Saratoga Town Hall at 5:30 p.m. The public hearing for the land swap will be at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, July 19 in Town Hall.

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