Property owner claims sign rights

By Dennis Box

The Courier-Herald

Norm Coates believes he has the right sign and he's willing to fight for it, but the city does not agree.

At the March 14 Bonney Lake City Council meeting, Coates staked out his position to council members.

Coates has a commercial sign displayed on a recreational vehicle parked on his property advertising CD Excavating. The CD stands for Coates and Duty. Courtney Duty is Coates' son-in-law.

“Courtney has been a garbage truck driver and would like to quit,” Coates said. “The sign gets him a couple of calls a week.”

Coates lives in the 8800 block of 181st Avenue East. The vehicle with the sign attached to the side is parked on the edge of his property looking over the intersection of state Route 410 East and Sumner-Buckley Highway.

Coates said the city sent him a letter stating if he didn't move the vehicle with the sign on it he would be fined and reported to state Department of Labor and Industry.

He had a banner displayed on his fence last year, but the city made him remove it.

“You've encroached on my property for 38 years,” said Coates, who has lived in Bonney Lake since 1968. “My truck is on my property and I think it is my right.”

According the Planning Director Bob Leedy, the city's code enforcement officer had “an extended conversation (with Coates) and finally sent a letter.”

The city contends the sign breaks the city's code, which was written in 2001.

The section of the code the sign violates according to the city is:

“Signs placed on vehicles or trailers which are parked or located for the primary purpose of displaying said sign (this does not apply to allowed portable signs or to signs or lettering on buses, taxis, or vehicles operating during the normal course of business).”

During the meeting Councilman Jim Rackley said he would be willing to consider the issue in the Community Development Committee, but Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman indicated the issue has been decided.

“The full council has said no,” Swatman said. “If it comes back to me I will be more restrictive.”

Councilman Dave King said it is not appropriate for the “City Council to negotiate to gain an exception.”

Mayor Neil Johnson said he will ask his staff to look into the issue and report back to the council.

Coates said if a compromise could not be reached he would contact an attorney.

“There are over 200 signs right across the street,” Coates said. “It's my private vehicle and I believe I can park it where I want.”

Dennis Box can be reached at

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