By Emily Stifler Explorebigsky.com Managing Editor

BOZEMAN – The Gallatin County Compliance Office has ruled that Saunders Outdoor Advertising has lost its “grandfathered” right to illuminate its billboard located in the Beckman Flats area at Mile Marker 64 in the northern part of Gallatin Canyon.

According to Saunders, the sign was electrified and lighting was installed in April of 2009. The North Gallatin Canyon Zoning District was created on Dec. 16, 2009, and its regulations went into effect. The billboard was not allowed to be lighted under the regulations.

When Saunders first lit the sign at night on July 2, 2010, there were a number of homeowner complaints to the County Compliance Office. The County subsequently issued a ruling allowing a “grandfathered” right to illuminate the sign. However, Saunders turned the lights off shortly thereafter, and they remained off until February of 2012.

Again there were a number of citizen complaints to the Gallatin County Code Compliance Office, requesting an enforcement action to have the lights turned off.

In response to these most recent complaints, Code Compliance Specialist Nicole Olmstead issued a ruling on Aug. 29 stating that Saunders had lost its right to illuminate the sign through disuse of that right. The North Gallatin Canyon Zoning Regulations have a “use it or lose it” clause that applies to outdoor advertising signs.

“I’m just happy that the County has stood by the North Gallatin Canyon Zoning Regulations and covenants,” resident Bill Lerch said. “No local businesses advertise on it. It’s just a travesty to have something like that in the scenic corridor of the Gallatin Canyon.”