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The Utah Legislature granted clemency of sorts Wednesday to an illegal outlet mall sign.

The massive sign advertising the Traverse Mountain Outlet Mall in Lehi City was built several years ago at a cost of about $2 million.

One Problem: The sign was illegal.

And, it turns out, the city and developer knew it was illegal when the city granted a permit to build it. Carlos Braceras, director of the Utah Department of Transportation said Wednesday that highway officials told the city it probably would not comply with the law when it was permitted.

The issue is that the sign advertises businesses that were not on the contiguous parcel of land — the property with the outlet stores is divided by two roads and a rail line —¬†and as a result violated the law governing "on premise" signs.

The outlet mall could have been told to take down the sign and fined for not complying. Instead, the company got Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, to run SB161 to change the law so the property would be considered as the same parcel.

Not everyone liked the maneuver. Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, said the sign also violates standards for being too bright at night and is so far from the outlet mall it's difficult to even see the stores from the road.

"I am troubled by this bill, representatives, for the simple reason that this developer put up this sign in violation of the law," he said. "Now they want to have us basically give them permission to do what they've done illegally."

The bill passed the House Wednesday on a vote of 49-23 and is headed to the governor who can veto or sign the sign reprieve.

Twitter: @RobertGehrke