A few months back Holiday gas stations installed blue neon-ish lights around their gas station signs at numerous South Metro locations sparking the ire of residents. These local residents contacted Lazy Lightning to ask what could be done about the distractions it was causing drivers as they passed by the stations.
After researching local city ordinances, Holiday Companies Corporate Offices in Bloomington were contacted. Customer Service provided information that all station signs meet city requirements for daytime or night luminescence and each has been approved by the respective city. Research shows that a majority of cities require retail signage to limit emissions through indirect lighting they test the device to ensure light does not interfere with traffic signals and does not cause glare for passing motorists or adjacent properties. However, observations made at three different Holiday gas station stores in Apple Valley (CR-42/Johnny Cake), Lakeville (CR-46/Garrett), and Rosemount (CR-42/Chippendale) show that these rules were ignored by at least Apple Valley although the city has already required changes and may be asking for future changes as well.
Bruce Nordquist, Apple Valley’s Community Development Director responded to Lazy Lightning’s questions about the sign at CR-42/Johnny Cake and had this to say (edits in format only):
- The blue LED strip addition to the existing sign used by the Holiday store required only an electrical permit, not a sign permit approval, to install.
- To differentiate the overall light on the existing sign versus the LED addition would require an independent evaluation by a lighting expert. This step has not occurred.
- Others have also observed the blue light intensity.
- Staff requested that the Holiday corporate office adjust the intensity of the added light.
- About two weeks ago, timers and dimmers were added to the system by Holiday to reduce the intensity by an estimated 40 percent (60 percent power) from sunset to sunrise. The reduction in intensity has been noticeable in a positive way based on public feedback.
While no specifics were provided about the number of residents making complaints nor the number suggesting the mitigated effects were acceptable, when Lazy Lightning noted the sign at that location is still too bright especially during the daylight hours, Nordquist replied the city would follow up with them and, “request further night and daytime adjustment.”
While Apple Valley’s response to citizen concern about the signs are to be applauded by all, one may wonder why the signs were not tested prior to installation and why they appeared to be in violation of the city ordinance which states, “All illuminated signs shall have an indirect or diffused light source and be designed so as not to direct rays of light onto public streets or adjacent property, thereby creating a nuisance or safety hazard,” in the first place. Sitting at the traffic light at the corner of Johnny Cake and CR-42 during the nighttime hours allows drivers to see the blue hue spread across the road. This effect is exacerbated during wet/icy road conditions usually common during the winter months.
For your reference here are some of the related regulations for a variety of South Metro cities, including the three in question:
What do you think about the bright blue light emitted from Holiday’s recently installed signage? Do you find the lights and the way they’re built to be distracting to you when you drive? Are you surprised that you can clearly see the lights of the Holiday station on CR-42 and Chippendale in Rosemount all the way from Diamond Path, a mile away, during daylight hours? How about Apple Valley’s response to citizen concerns about the problem. Do you think they never should have allowed the signs in the first place or are you just happy they seem to be enforcing standards after the fact? Do you believe your city should force Holiday to make changes to their signs in your town? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.