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Is Manteca ready for bright light advertising?
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The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley wants one.

And so might Great Wolf Resort if they end up building a 600-room hotel and indoor water park in Manteca.

But the real question is will neighbors really want one near them?

The “ones” are light-emitting diode (LED) electronic message display boards that the city wants to allow at specific areas along the Highway 120 Bypass corridor and Highway 99.

A workshop is planned for next Tuesday, March 22, at 5:30 p.m. at the council chambers at the Civic Center, 1001, W. Center St. The purpose is to explain what the signs are like, the rules the city and Caltrans are requiring, and to seek input and answer questions from people who live nearby the various areas that the electronic billboards are proposed to be allowed.

The City Council opted not to act in October on a proposed ordinance change that would allow the signs to be used by recreation/hospitality centers in select areas along the Highway 99 and Highway 120 Bypass corridors until concerns of nearby residents were addressed.

The technology is much different attitude than 11 years ago when an investment firm pushed - and received - permission to put in a high-tech electronic message board on one of the Spreckels Park signs along Highway 99. After it was in place a number of residents in the El Rancho Mobile Home Park directly across the freeway complained the light still came into their homes even with drapes drawn.

LED lighting is much softer by comparison.

Council instructed staff this time to go beyond the state-required 300-foot notifications for development issues due to the lights could have impacted beyond that distance. Although no one has formally complained to the city about the existing Bass Pro Shops signs which exceed what the city usually allows due to it being along a highway corridor, it is clear the visual impacts on Bass Pro Shops extend well beyond 300 feet from it as you go north of the 120 Bypass.

There are only a few places such LED billboard signs could go in Manteca including south of the Highway 120 Bypass between Union Road and a point east of Main Street, the southern quadrants of the 120 Bypass and Airport Way interchange, along the 120 Bypass near the future McKinley Avenue interchange, the southwest corner of the Highway 99 and 120 Bypass interchange, the area that is now vacant between Highway 99 and the Northgate Drive/Main Street intersection, as well as on the northwest corner of the Lathrop  Road and Highway 99 interchange.

Some of the rules that staff proposed for such signs in October included:

•They couldn’t exceed a height or a sign area that would be a nuisance to neighboring properties or motorists.

•They must be constructed of quality materials and of similar design and architecture as the regional recreation/hospitality center it is advertising.

•The hours of operation and illumination as well as changing images on the electronic display will not create a nuisance to surrounding uses, the vicinity, or traffic.

•The sign shall aid in the generation of sales tax revenue and/or promote the City of Manteca in a positive manner.

•The sign will be maintained in such a manner that the screen is fully functioning at all times. If the screen does develop areas with no or improper illumination that affect the overall quality of the images, the screen shall be turned off until necessary repairs have been made. The city’s Community Development Director has the authority to make such a determination.

Electronic message sign illumination and message rotation would have to comply with Caltrans safety standards as well. Caltrans bans message changes more frequent than every 10 seconds.