Castle Rock moves toward sign-code changes

A new LED sign installed outside of town hall will communicate event and emergency messaging with town residents.
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A new sign code that would allow marquees and murals, signs that appear to move, signs with lights, strings of light bulbs, freestanding signs, signs on roofs — all things currently prohibited — got an initial OK from Castle Rock City Council Aug. 6 on first reading.

The marquee sign on Denver's circa-1914 Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax Ave, was an example of an old-time sign allowed in the new code.

Town staff explained the new code is the result of a two-year effort by town staff, various business organizations and other residents and groups to come up with something that encourages creativity while maintaining the historical character of downtown — while also enticing customers to businesses while also making it a “pedestrian-friendy” charming place to be.

“(The new code) will encourage creativity by allowing a broader range of styles and materials,” said Mary Shaw, Castle Rock's zoning manager.

Not everything is considered creative and desirable, however. Prohibited in the new sign code are inflatable signs, portable flashing roof signs, aerosol spray-painted signs, except murals, and any signs that emit sound.

“The team felt there may be a sign that emits sound that could scare someone,” Shaw said. “The team was sort of torn half and half whether or not that should be listed as a sign type that was prohibited.”

The effort to update the town's sign code began in 2010 with the goal being to “ensure higher-quality development” in the downtown area, while creating regulations that “encourage creative signage… in line with the downtown master plan,” Shaw said.

In answer to council questions, Shaw said that sandwich-board signs would be allowed. And that signs held by human sign twirlers aren't addressed in the code because “we don't have the authority to regulate that type of signage,” Shaw said.

Castle Rock Councilmember Clark Hammelman said sign codes “are always very controversial… whatever sign code we adopt it's not going to make everybody happy.”

But he said he believes the new code is a product of a “of a lot of good work, compromise and negotiation.”

“I hope the community…accepts it in that spirit,” Hammelman said.

Castle Rock Councilmember Chip Wilson said he appreciated “all the time, the effort” by those creating the code and moved to approve it. Second reading will take place at a future council meeting.