Council passes new billboard rules; Conditional use now required for all outdoor displays

February 11, 2009

After months of reviewing all possible implications of proposed changes to billboard rules, Akron City Council passed final legislation Monday night which limits new and existing outdoor advertising displays.

Under the new rules, conditional use permits are required for advertisers wishing to erect new or modify existing billboards in the city. Other new regulations include:

  • Billboards can be no higher than 30 feet.
  • Billboards must be at least 1,000 feet apart from one another.
  • No billboards are permitted within the city’s Central Business District.
  • Single-panel billboards may only face one direction.

Conversions to digital are permitted, but only if approved after Council holds public hearings on each individual request.

The digital conversion issue was a major sticking point for the proposed changes, and received the most objections from residents who spoke at a public hearing on the proposed changes in early December.

Council’s Economic Development and Job Creation Committee Chair Terry Albanese (W-6) said her committee took time on the legislation to conduct field studies and review published university and federal studies on the impact of digital billboards on residential areas. Albanese concluded that while the prospect of digital billboards in neighborhoods may not have the negative impact that some objectors feared, the stricter conditions for any new digital advertising in those areas should calm most residents’ concerns.

“The studies we reviewed revealed no new information from what we had already concluded concerning digital billboards; apparently we did our homework well,” Albanese said. “I am pleased that my committee and this Council took the time to come up with rules which offer some concessions to opponents and proponents of the changes.”