Billboard moratorium extended to probe new federal study

January 27, 2009

     Akron City Council extended its moratorium on new billboards in the city by another 14 days to allow for further review of a new study on their impact on neighborhoods.

     Council’s Economic Development and Job Creation Committee Chair Terry Albanese requested the extension to review a federal study on billboards due to be released by the end of the month.

     While she does not expect the study to contain any conclusions on the contentious issue of the impact of digital billboards in residential areas, Albanese said her committee still wants to consider all current research on the topic before setting new rules on outdoor advertising in the city.

     “We don’t expect the federal government has studied electronic billboards enough to tell us anything,” she said, but “We want the most up-to-date research available before we create any new legislation with regard to billboards.”

     The ordinance passed Monday night is the second extension on the original 120-day billboard moratorium passed in September. The first extension gave the committee an additional 21 days to review several studies on outdoor advertising and conduct field studies on the impact of digital billboards on Akron neighborhoods.

     Albanese and staff from the city’s Planning Department visited billboard sites in residential areas earlier this month, and found that while the prospect of digital billboards in neighborhoods may not have the negative impact that some objectors feared, any new legislation would impose stricter conditions for any new digital advertising in those areas.

     The original ordinance under consideration would change the permit class for billboards and outdoor advertising displays from retail business use to conditional use, limit billboards to a maximum height of 35 feet and allow conversions to digital.

     Digital conversion received the most objections from residents who spoke at a public hearing in early December.