Church school’s request puts sign rules back on the table

Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel and Christian School is proposing to replace its "welcome" sign with an electronic message board.

YUCCA VALLEY — Churches and nonprofit organizations in the town’s residential neighborhoods must follow specific rules governing their signs. Prompted by Joshua Springs Christian School’s request for an exemption from those rules, the planning commission will look at sign regulations in the coming months.

Commission Chairman Steven Whitten asked for permission to consider changes to the sign code in May when Joshua Springs pastor Jerel Hagerman asked to be allowed to install an electronic message board about four times larger than permitted.

While commissioners disagreed over the electronic sign, sending Hagerman back to revise his proposal, Whitten said it was past time to renovate the sign code.

“Someday in your free time, stand in front of Big Lots, look down that corridor and tell me what you see. It looks like you’re in a Third World nation almost,” he said at the May 8 meeting.

“I’m not trying to bag on the businesses in that area, but you’ve got every type of sign, flag, you name it. And that’s because we don’t have an updated sign code that our code enforcement can actually enforce. It’s out of date.”

Deputy Town Manager Shane Stueckle said as far as the code enforcement and planning staff is concerned, most of the sign code is working well.

“The sign code is never finished because the minute you adopt amendments, someone wants those amendments to be changed,” he said.

Still, in the last 10 years, planning staff can recall just five requests for variances; most were businesses that wanted larger signs than allowed.

“That tells staff that for the most part … the code is very effective,” Stueckle said.

“Does it need to be updated? Yes, we’ve had specific discussions about changes that need to be made,” Stueckle said.

“From staff’s perspective, do large electronic message boards belong in residential neighborhoods? No, from staff’s perspective, they do not,” he added. “That is the last place they belong.”

Commissioner John Terfehr agreed, saying that state law sets the conditions for granting a variance, and the electronic sign did not meet those conditions.

“If we approve this variance, we water down the code. And then our code has less meaning in all aspects,” Terfehr said. “It’s not just about signs; it’s about all of our codes. Do they mean anything or do we just override them when we feel like it?”

Whitten argued the church school should be allowed to install the sign because Joshua Springs will be a Red Cross center if there is a large earthquake or fire in the Basin.

“If Joshua Springs, regardless of their function, is thinking outside the box to benefit this community in event of catastrophic events, I think that’s a credit to that organization,” he said.

In the end, Hagerman said he would go back to the drawing board to see if he could modify his sign proposal, while Stueckle said he would tell the Town Council commissioners wanted permission to start a revision on at least part of the sign code.

The council agreed to allow the revision, at least for church and nonprofit signs — although Mayor Pro Tem Bob Lombardo signaled a willingness to look at changing the code to be more permissive for business signs, too.

“I want to express my concern for business owners in this town. I think signage is very important and I think it should be looked to,” Lombardo said

Mayor Rick Denison said he would like to see the commission address electronic signs like those proposed by Joshua Springs.

“When I moved to Yucca Valley years ago, the idea of an electronic sign was the one at Pomona First Federal and it told us the time and temperature,” he said. 

“Times have changed a lot and we have an obligation to the residents and the community as a whole to look at these new technologies and find best ones that would fit in most appropriate areas.”

Drozd advised he thinks the commission should consider changes for churches, nonprofits and private schools. Public schools are not governed by town land-use rules.

The planning commission will begin its look at the sign code at a future date; it has not yet been placed on an agenda.

(19) comments

Dadof4

Why does it seem that everything Hergeman and JS Church wants, they get?

starchaser

he'll do anything to get his way. in case of an emergency, only those who give money to the church will receive any help. the red cross thing is just a way to get his way.

TreadLightly

Big money, it's ALL about money!!!

BBB

Why does a school with declining enrollment need an electronic sign? I suggest Mayor Denison consider a reliable old technology........a Red Cross flag.

The folks at the Hi-Desert Star should hire a guy with a cutting torch and get rid of the garish excuse of a sign that looms over Hwy. 62.

Stephen Diamond

Acceding to this sectarian request would violate the separation of church and state.

sinatra1022

I would like a little more clarification on what he means by Third World Country. I have been to the Big Lots Corridor and it looks straight up Yucca Valley to me!

jim311

Let's leave the sign ordinance as it is. Various shaped and lit signs are an eyesore. NO! Look at downtown Palm Springs. It is beautiful. Businesses can only put a certain sized sign on their store front. Let's keep Yucca looking better.

cpruitt

It does show you who on the town council take their directions from the church. On one wants electronic signs in their neighborhoods. But since their church wants it they will ignore what the citizens want. Just more and more evidence that the church controls the city.

Branson Hunter

Usually varrance are frown upon. In this case its the usual shameless favoritism and corruptive cronyism. Sky Harbor council cronies voted in two (2) votes for their district. Yet,the Twenthynine Palms council is the most shameful and shameless violator for corruptive cronyism. All of which undermines voters confidence. District voting over time may tone down the corrupting of local government in YV and 29. Spend more of taxpayers money in voting districts? Wow... that is a dreadful though for, namely, the old guys on the council of 29.

Mark Simmons

Seems to me Chairman Whitten ought to recuse himself from this issue as it’s a well known fact he attends JS. So tired of this church getting its way in this town because three out of the five council members along with Whitten attend JS. So much for separation of church and state.

Also, Witten’s comment about looking down the highway 62 corridor makes absolutely no sense! He is comparing apples to oranges. One is in a business district, the other is located in a residential neighborhood. If I lived in Skyharbor I wouldn’t want to look at that ugly sign either.

It’s time for citizens like me to stand up to the likes of JS and just say NO to them! Preach all you want on Sunday just don’t be telling me how to live my life.

Dadof4

I wonder if Pastor Hegeman evens reads these comments? If so, what are your thoughts Pastor?

Blayd

A small quiet and quaint little town outside of Flagstaff, AZ is starting to look better and better.

I am certainly glad I am not near that building wanting a commercial sign in a residential area.

Blight come to mind.

Josh

So what , how petty.

Mike

To our little Joshua Springs hate troop… give me a freaking break!!!

JOSHUA SPRINGS CHURCH AND SCHOOL IS AN AWESOME FACILITY AND AN ASSET TO MY NEIGHBORHOOD.

Other places in our community should be so lucky. To all the folks responsible for its existence and to all who are involved with its operation and maintenance I say “Good Job” and “Thank You”.

I am not a member of the church and do not worship there.
But I have attended numerous services (celebration of life) for friends who have passed on, and I vote there as well.

I’ve lived many places in my long life and have had a church near by at most of them. One small town had 5 within walking distance… which outnumbered the bars by one, “Praise the Lord”.

I think most everyone would agree, our neighborhood churches are a positive influence on the entire community and that ultimately neighborhood churches provide the moral backbone of our nation. I suspect some of those posting here did not have the good fortune to grow up around one, LOL.

I live close and drive by Joshua Springs near daily and I can’t imagine that members of such a beautiful and well groomed place of worship would even think of erecting something their neighbors wouldn’t be proud of.

Mark Simmons

Mike, In the words of David Lee Roth, “One break, coming up!” Lol! Seriously, while you speak in glowing terms of a church you don’t even attend. It doesn’t diminish the fact that JS isn’t above the rules and regulations set forth from this town.

I find it odd that this church, wants inflict its views upon this town and frowns upon those who don’t tow their line. Is now asking for a special favor because it benefits their agenda. Sorry friend, that doesn’t jibe well with me. After all, rules are rules.

The fact that you lived in area with five churches within walking distance is of little interest to me. Just because there are churches area does not mean for one second that that a town has high moral standards. Just ask the Catholic Church and all the problems that they had. Morality? Seems to me, that morality is an individual thing that is taught by one’s parents if they’re lucky enough as I was to have tough loving parents. For me, Morality Is not found within the walls of the church or what some guy from the pulpit says on Sunday mornings. So Mr. Mike, I do not agree with your statement that churches provide a better moral ground for said communities. I do agree that it is a person‘s right to worship however they see fit. But it is not their right to inflict their views or religion upon others as does JS and their parishioners do.

So go right ahead and speak glowingly of JS. It does not change the fact that JS needs to follow the rules that were set forth by this town.

booboo77

Remember the film "Footloose"? JS and the City Council are straight outta that movie. They actually qualify as a cult. Cults traditionally attempt to take total control of the towns they've chosen as their realm of glory. Rajneesh and his holier than thou adherents come to mind. They overwhelmed the voting district with members and voted themselves into power. They were even the cops! Do some research on cults and you'll soon discover they all pretty much operate the same way. JS has had their own child abuse scandals too. Swept under the rug as usual. Yucca Valley is not Las Vegas. No one needs to see huge neon billboards flashing Bible quotes 24/7. How about spending that money on a shelter & food for the homeless that are all over town these days? That's what Jesus would do. I just can't see Him condoning a huge sign quoting his observations. He was much too humble for anything that brash. If a Mosque were asking for the same thing here, heads would be spinning in outrage I'm sure.

Dadof4

Have we seen or heard from Pastor Hagerman on here yet? Nope...[wink]

Branson Hunter

Separation of church and state? Why should religious institutions get preferential treatment? Take another look at Drozd's statement: "He advised he thinks the commission should consider changes for churches, nonprofits and private schools. Public schools are not governed by town land-use rules."

This advise and is tailored for Joshua Springs Calvary Chapel: It's a Christian School, it's a nonprofit; it's a private school, it's a church. The biases of some local councilMen are obvious.Those councilMen in favor of church fumble with the words to promote a very powerful church. one that is more forceful in getting the ear of the council guys, that are the voters at large.

Remember November 6, 2018 - Polls open 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Josh

How about spending that money on a shelter & food for the homeless ?

That's the same thing Judas said before betraying Jesus
.
Just thought I would mention that since you were using him to prove you're pointless ,With your pointless point.

You could start your own cult, or rock band and call it Pontius Pilate and the pointless pointers.

Your first album could be called Casting stones.

First song on the album could be " dirty finger".


Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.