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Commission grants signage exception to Dust Bowl
Brewing company expansion to install neon rooftop sign
Planning dust bowl pic
The Turlock Planning Commission approved Dust Bowl Brewing Company's designs to build an expansive neon sign that will sit atop the new facility on Fulkerth Road and Dianne Drive. - photo by Photo Contributed

Despite concerns regarding the standard they will potentially set, the Turlock Planning Commission unanimously voted on Thursday to grant Dust Bowl Brewing Company a conditional use permit that will allow them to install 10 signs—including an expansive neon sign that will sit atop the facility—that altogether will more than double the total sign area permissible under the current sign regulations.

“I think for marketing this is a great idea, because it stands out and you’re bringing in customers and money; however, I think it sets a bad precedent though,” said Turlock resident Michael Puffer. “You might have other businesses possibility requesting permission to put up these signs—maybe even smaller businesses downtown or on Monte Vista.”

“I don’t really fear that we’re setting precedent,” said Commissioner Nick Hackler in response. “I think we’re allowing for a business that is a Turlock-based business to be proud of what they developed and proud of our town. I think it looks great personally.”

The brewing company’s Master Sign Program will include six directional signs, one monument sign, two wall signs, and one rooftop-mounted neon sign for a total of approximately 650 square feet of sign area. The City’s sign ordinance requires approval of a conditional use permit when the total sign area for a site exceeds 300 square feet, as well as approval of any sign that is inconsistent with the City’s sign regulations or Design guidelines, such as a rooftop-mounted sign.

“The applicant’s justification is that this is a tourist attraction and like many other tourist attractions, they want to have a unique kind of sign that actually conveys that message that this is a very unique experience for visitors,” said Deputy Director of Development Services and Planning Debbie Whitmore.

The rooftop-mounted sign will be approximately 4 feet, 8 inches by 77 feet and comprised of individual neon letters for a total sign area of approximately 360 square feet. The letters will be mounted on an exposed metal frame illuminated on only one side facing toward Highway 99.

Dust Bowl Brewing Company owner Brett Honore said that the purpose of this sign is to imitate iconic signs for nationally known brewing companies like Budweiser and Pabst Blue Ribbon, as well as signs that characterize Turlock’s history.

“We looked at a lot of different signs and different styles, but it just comes down to the fact that we are a brewery and what breweries do are old neon signs,” said Honore. “With our distance from the freeway, we really needed something that stood out and looked like something that would draw people to come have dinner ad have a beer.

“I think it’s a good thing for Turlock and I think it will attract a lot of people,” continued Honore.

The two wall signs will be externally illuminated, totaling approximately 175 square feet. The monument sign will be internally illuminated and placed on the northeast corner of the property at 40 square feet in size. The six directional signs will range in size from two square feet to 18 square feet in sign area and will be located throughout the property to assist visitors and suppliers navigate the property.

The Dust Bowl Brewing Company expansion is currently under development on an approximately five acre site at 300 Fulkerth Road with a 30,000 square foot primary brewery and operations building, a 7,000 square foot tasting room, and a large open patio area. Honore said that the he hopes to start brewing in April and to open the tap room in June.