Digital signs not on the menu

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) -- Drive-throughs continue to be a growing business. More than 70 percent of the business the McDonalds near Wedge Parkway and Mount Rose Highway gets, goes through its drive-through.

"We provide the best experience for our customers," said Kevin McAuley, with McDonald’s.

McDonald's wants to continue providing that experience, this time going away with the old and bringing in new 55-inch digital menu boards.

But there is one problem; under city of Reno rules, digital menu boards are considered signs like billboards and digital signs are not allowed within 300 feet of Mount Rose Highway.

"I get that the code says it's a digital sign. I'm sorry, but these are menu boards. They are not signs," said McAuley.

This past week at the Reno Planning Commission, commissioners agreed that it's a stretch to say digital menu boards are signs.

"This is a case of technology outpacing the regulations,” said Paul Olivas, Reno Planning Commission.

"I certainly don't think that this was what it was intended to be denied when this requirement for the digital signage was put forward," said Vice Chair Mark Johnson, Reno Planning Commission.

McAuley told the commissioners the new menu boards are needed because the originals are no longer made and parts are not available. He went on to say, the digital signs would face away from the highway and create less light than the older one, so it wouldn't compromise people's scenic view.

But in the end, an issue considered in the gray area was shot down.

"There isn't really a path forward in my opinion under our current policies. It's something that makes sense, but our policy doesn't support it," said Chairman Peter Gower, Reno Planning Commission.

"This is generally a positive improvement, but when we have extraordinary and exceptional in the language and strict application in the language, kind of ties our hands a little bit," said Olivas.

The decision can be appealed to the Reno City Council.

The commissioners asked staff to look at the language, so other restaurants in this situation don't have to go through the same fate.