Zoners to take on LED signs, fuel tanks

KINGMAN - The Kingman Planning and Zoning Commission will revisit a pair of months-long ongoing issues and will introduce what may well become another at its 6 p.m. meeting today.

Commissioners will first consider whether to approve granting a conditional use permit that would allow UNS Electric to build a 12,000-gallon above ground fuel storage tank on the grounds of its facility at 2290 Airway Ave. Last month, the Kingman City Council agreed to allow businesses within the C-3: Commercial, Service Business zoning district to apply for such permits, whereas only Industrial zones were originally allowed above ground fuel tanks.

UNS has requested the tank in order to give it a centrally located emergency fuel distribution center for its vehicle fleet in the event access to its regular distributor is cut off due to a power outage. UNS has stressed that fuel vendors rely on electricity to pump their fuel, and that in the event of an outage, the very UNS trucks that are supposed to help restore power would be left without a way to refuel.

In its CUP application, UNS said that the tank would only be used to provide fuel to a mobile fuel tanker, which would then fuel the individual UNS fleet vehicles. Likewise, the tank would only be accessed by specially trained personnel, with constant on-site security.

The tank has been the target of some controversy from families with children who attend the Kingman Academy of Learning, which has several buildings located just a few hundred feet from the proposed tank site. But UNS claims the tank it wants to build meets all the city's fire codes, with overfill sensors, leak sensors, breakaway hoses, shut-off valves and numerous other safety devices, in addition to a secondary tank that can contain 110 percent of the primary tank's volume, should it be breached. It also has an advantage over below ground tanks in that any exterior leaks can be immediately identified and repaired without the need to excavate, and the tank can be easily moved to a new location, if need be.

KAOL's district administrator, Susan Chan, has stated that the district has no objections to the fuel tank, and feels assured that UNS will exercise all requisite safety precautions.

Commissioners will also vote on whether to approve a text amendment to the city zoning ordinance that would set new standards for electronic message signs for commercial businesses. For months, commissioners have heard back and forth commentary regarding signs that utilize LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, such as the sign for Ridgeview Dental at 2535 Hualapai Mountain Road. The biggest concerns voiced by citizens and commissioners has been over the nighttime brightness of such signs, as well as their potential to distract motorists by flashing or changing displays too frequently.

The text amendment as worded would require such signs to maintain messages for at least four seconds before switching displays, and would prohibit any messages from flashing, though scrolling and more subtle transitions would still be allowed. It would also impose specific nighttime lighting requirements, requiring signs to be no brighter than 0.6 candela over the ambient light level, as measured from 100 feet away.

For comparison, the Ridgeview Dental sign currently measures 0.52 candela over the ambient nighttime light level, while the traditional internally-lit sign outside Manglesdorf Family Dentistry at 2249 Hualapai Mountain Road measures just 0.19 candela over.

The amendment would also require every electronic message display sign to have a redundant brightness control system installed, including an automatic light-sensing device or photocell that can adjust the sign's brightness as lighting conditions change. And in case that systems fails, each sign must also have a backup lighting control system installed that defaults brightness settings to local sunrise and sunset times.

Finally, commissioners will also consider whether to pursue similar regulations for off-premises electronic message display signs, otherwise known as electronic billboards. Such signs have not yet been constructed in Kingman, but have become commonplace along the interstates in many major metropolitan areas, such as Las Vegas, and city staff have reported that there has been some interest expressed in building such billboards here.

Staff have already prepared several different options in the event commissioners wan to pursue a formal amendment regulating electronic billboards. The language includes options covering distance between signs, minimum display time, operational limitations, light intensity and brightness control.

Tonight's meeting begins in the Council Chambers at 310 N. Fourth St. For full agenda details, visit www.cityofkingman.gov and look under "Agendas, Minutes and Video."