Sign instills fear in residents 

By Michael Terry
Article Courtesy of Citrus County Chronicle Online

Having lived in Meadowcrest for six years, Wayne Long says he knows all too well how dangerous it can be for motorists pulling onto State Road 44 to exit the development east of Crystal River. 

So even he was surprised when he left the development via the exit at Meeting Tree Boulevard on Tuesday and saw a giant concrete sign blocking his view of traffic from the east at the intersection of S.R. 44 and Rock Crusher Boulevard. 

The sign belongs to attorneys Denise and T.M. Van Ness, who recently built a new law office at the corner of Meeting Tree Boulevard and S.R. 44. 

With the frequency of accidents at the exit, primarily due to the sweeping curve of S.R. 44 that hampers visibility, Long said adding another obstruction is asking for an accident to happen. 

“And there are large dirt trucks and other large vehicles that come around that corner in excess of 50 and 60 mph,” he said, noting that he believes the placement of the concrete sign cuts visibility by at least 100 yards. 

“I just don’t know how that sign was ever permitted to be built,” he said. 

While the county’s director of developmental services, Gary Maidhof, agrees that the sign hampers visibility, he said the county’s hands are tied because the sign does not violate the county’s building codes. 

“The county’s land development code provides for the protection of visibility triangles,” he said. “However, it’s oriented to intersections. In this particular case, we are dealing with a road that curves, and the county’s regulations never anticipated dealing with visibility in regards to road curves. 

“Clearly, it’s something we’re going to want to look at,” he added, “but I cannot apply regulations that don’t exist.” 

In a letter to the Meadowcrest Community Association, Maidhof wrote: “The only mechanism available is to prepare an ordinance amendment to revise our visibility triangles regulations to include road curvature in future signage reviews ...” 

However, Maidhof said even if the amendment is passed, it could not be applied to the Van Ness sign. 

Maidhof said he sent a letter to Van Ness to explain the situation, and has told residents of Meadowcrest that the Van Ness’ are the ones with the ability to voluntarily move the sign. 

“Should they choose to do so, staff will work with them or their contractor to facilitate the permit modification,” he wrote. 

Denise Van Ness did not return a call Friday seeking comment. 

While disappointed with the county’s findings, Long said he’s not ready to give up getting the sign moved. 

Long plans to approach officials at State Department of Transportation to see if something can be done at the state level. 

In the meantime, Long encouraged anyone wanting to exit Meadowcrest to use the exit at North Meadowcrest Boulevard. 

“Whoever designed it did not do their job right, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “They’ve got plenty of room to move the sign back. And it really needs to be torn down before a serious accidents happen.”