[Durham INC] Turnout for County Billboard Hearing
tom-miller1 at nc.rr.com
Sun Aug 8 18:44:37 EDT 2010
Dear Neighborhood Advocates:
Tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in the Old Courthouse on Main Street, downtown, the
Board of County Commissioners will hold its public hearing on the billboard
industry's request to take the teeth out of Durham's strict billboard laws.
We all need to be there to tell the board to vote this bad request down.
As you know, Durham's UDO currently bans the construction of new billboards
and makes those still standing non-conforming uses. This means that if
existing billboards are taken for highway widening, abandoned or damaged
beyond half their value, they can't be replaced. Over the 25 years the law
has been in place, the number of ugly billboards in Durham has fallen from
an all -time high of around 200 to fewer than 100 today. Under the
industry's request, however, billboard owners would be able to upgrade their
old signs to new ones on steel masts. They would be able to relocate
existing signs to major highways like I-85, Hwy 70, and North Roxboro Road.
They would be able to locate a billboard to as close as 200 ft. to a
residence or neighborhood. And finally, and this is the kicker, they would
be able to convert 25% of their signs to electronic billboards - the kind
that can change message every eight seconds.
Last Monday, the city council voted 7-0 against the billboard industry
request - even though billboard industry representatives promised that
electronic billboards could do just about everything short of curing cancer.
This means the existing billboard ban will continue in within the city
limits. Tomorrow night the Board of County Commissioners must decide
whether to allow ugly flashing signs in the county's zoning jurisdiction.
To allow digital billboards in the county would be an especially bad idea
because the proposed ordinance rewrite arguably would allow billboard owners
to remove billboards from the city and re-erect them in the county as
electronic billboards there. The city's decision to ban billboards in the
city limits could wind up working to concentrate billboard blight in the
county at the city's entrances.
Tomorrow night is something of a test, then, for INC neighborhoods and
neighborhood advocates everywhere. City delegates and neighborhood leaders
must turn out for the BOCC hearing tomorrow. Just because the city council
took the heat off our city neighborhoods does not mean that we get to stay
home and watch the BOCC meeting (or Dancing with the Stars) on T.V. It is
our responsibility to stand up and support our county neighbors. This is
the INC credo - we all stick up for each other. Scipio said, "My next
neighbor's scathe is my present peril." In the neighborhood business,
nothing is truer.
INC was the first community group to study and reject this billboard
proposal. We have to see this through. I will be there tomorrow night, but
the voice of one person is barely audible above the crowd. Join me and
Durham's neighborhood voice will rise to an irresistible crescendo.
Thanks to you all!
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