Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2004 | 11:12 a.m.
Red Rock Station, which has sparked controversy throughout the past year, cleared another hurdle Tuesday when the Clark County Commission allowed Station Casinos to erect the signs it wants for the project under construction.
The approval of an 80-foot sign on the Las Vegas Beltway and a 50-foot, animated, LED-illuminated sign on Charleston Boulevard came over the protests of some Summerlin residents, many of whom fought against Station Casinos' original plans for a 300-foot central tower earlier this year. While the residents' efforts prompted the county commission to lop a third off the tower height, they were fruitless in their effort Tuesday to scale back the planned signs for Red Rock Station.
LED is an acronym for light-emitting-diode, a technology that allows sign makers to produce illuminated, animated messages similar to a television screen.
Commissioner Chip Maxfield, whose district borders the project, said the signs were appropriate for an area that might be close to residential neighborhoods but was always planned as a commercial center. He said "monument" signs, which are close to the ground and do not generally carry illuminated messages, would not work for such an area.
"I would love to see it be 25 feet," he said in reference to the Charleston sign. "I would love to have monument signs everywhere, but that's not the way it works."
Commissioner Lynette Boggs McDonald, who represents the area where the Red Rock Station is going up and is a former Station Casinos board member, said she as a city councilwoman approved similar signs for the Suncoast hotel a few miles away.
"I don't see a substantial difference in circumstances," Boggs McDonald said.
Boggs McDonald made the motion to accept Station Casinos plans, and it passed 7-0.
"We knew it was pretty much going to happen," said Summerlin resident Gabriel Lither after the vote. Lither, a lawyer and a founder of Summerlin Residents for Responsible Growth, was a veteran of the earlier effort to scale back the size of the Red Rock Station tower and had argued for smaller signs.
He said the fact that last month had a general election that included five commissioners, among them Boggs McDonald, probably affected the commission vote.
"We're as far out from an election as possible," Lither said.
During his testimony to the board, Lither said the illuminated sign on Charleston did not fit with Summerlin or a "neighborhood" casino.
"We don't believe that the signage that they (Station Casinos) are currently offering fits well with a neighborhood casino," Lither said. "We are especially concerned with the LED portion of the sign."
Lither and Chuck Arkell, vice president of the Summerlin Residents for Responsible Growth, said they were concerned that the casino company could project suggestive or inappropriate content on the Charleston sign.
"Remember, this is a neighborhood and signs out there should reflect that," Lither said.
Bernie Weber, a homeowner nearby, said the size of the project and the signs with it would make Red Rock Station a magnet for crowds as casinos do on the Strip.
"To put that kind of sign here ... is to build a Strip casino with Strip signs," he said. "We want a neighborhood casino."
Summerlin resident Shauna Earl said she is concerned that the sexually suggestive signs that have appeared on the Strip would come to her neighborhood.
"Please take a stand for families," she asked the commission.
Advocates for the signs, however, had their arguments ready.
"Stylistically and in terms of color pattern it fits in perfectly with what we were told to do," said land-use consultant Greg Borgel, who represented Station Casinos.
Station Casinos Vice President Scott Nielson told the commission that the animated LED sign was critical for the project's success.
"If you didn't allow us to communicate with people through these signs it would almost be like not allowing television or radio advertising for this product," he said. "we're doing something we believe is in character and appropriate for that neighborhood ... You're really talking about something that is virtually undetectable outside of that area."
And several Summerlin residents added their voices to the chorus calling for the signs. Former Clark County Commission candidate Tim Cory, who ended up endorsing Boggs McDonald, said he believed the signs were important for the success of Red Rock Station.
"The last thing I want is for this casino not to be successful," Cory said.
Mark Curley, a board member of the Summerlin homeowners association, agreed.
Station Casinos, he said, wants "to build a No. 1 casino which will just make Summerlin that much better."