Council extends billboard moratorium

January 12, 2009

      Akron City Council approved an extension of the 120-day billboard moratorium by 21 days in order to review materials and studies received over the holiday recess.

      The original moratorium would have expired Jan. 9

     Economic Development and Job Creation Committee Chair Terry Albanese (W-6) requested the extension to give her committee time to review similar billboard ordinances from other Ohio cities and federal studies on billboards. She also wishes to to conduct field research on the impacts of digital billboards on residential areas of the city.

     Albanese and staff from the city’s Planning Department will conduct billboard field surveys with Akron representatives of major billboard advertising company Clear Channel Outdoor Thursday. They will visit billboard sites in residential areas to assess their possible impacts on residents should they be converted to digital.

     An 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 billboards. Digital conversion received the most outcries from residents when the topic was discussed in public hearing in early December.

      “One big question I have is how have other communities dealt with digital billboards, especially over matters of driver safety,” Albanese said. “It’s important to look at what we will have to deal with if billboards in neighborhoods went to digital. We have to try to imagine the impact of a digital-converted billboard in a residential neighborhood.”

     Council will hold a caucus next Monday to discuss the committee’s findings. Albanese said she expects Council to render a final decision on the revised ordinance after the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.