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Sunnyside formalizes agreement with Tom Paul

The Sunnyside City Council convened from a 15-minute executive session this past Monday night to announce terms of an agreement struck with Tom Paul.

Paul and the city had been in a squabble of sorts for the past several months concerning the local contractor's desire to place a billboard on his property along South First Street, near South Hill Park.

Mixed into the melee was the City Council overturning a recommendation of the Board of Adjustment to grant Paul a conditional use permit to place the billboard on his property. The action by Council was done on a recommendation from city staff.

That action sparked Paul to place a series of derogatory signs on his property chastising city officials for their actions.

Under the terms of the settlement approved by Council, Paul is being granted the conditional use permit he requested earlier.

"The settlement agreement grants Mr. Paul a conditional use permit to install an 8x20 billboard designated as a non-conforming use subject to all existing ordinances and the planned sign ordinance," said Sunnyside City Manager Bob Stockwell. "The current draft of the sign ordinance calls for a three-year amorization of any non-conforming uses."

Under the agreement, Paul has agreed to apply for a business license at his location, which will legalize the construction sign he has posted on his property.

"All other signs with the exception of the sign atop the green house, which may be used to advertise a future on-premises business, are to be removed within five days after a conditional use permit is issued," said Stockwell.

The city manager added that the storage sheds located on Paul's property must be removed within 30 days after the conditional use permit is issued. Paul erected the sheds after the city rejected his request to replace the billboard that had been on his property for numerous years.

Based on the agreement with the city, Paul has said he will dismiss his lawsuit in District Court while the city has agreed to dismiss the pending misdemeanor charges against him.

"It is unfortunate that this matter escalated to the point that it did," said Stockwell. "But we feel the settlement addresses the issues we set out to resolve. Placement of a billboard in this location long term is not consistent with the efforts of the city to improve this entrance to town."

Stockwell said contrary to Paul's opinion, the city has not done anything illegal.

"Every action of the Board of Adjustment may be appealed by the applicant or the city staff to the City Council or the courts," said Stockwell. "Citing Mr. Paul for violations of the municipal code is the obligation of the staff. This incident did serve to highlight the need for a more comprehensive sign ordinance to protect the community and to give our businesses clear rules they can follow while advertising."

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