Billboard placement a hot topic in Layton

Aug 17 2011 - 11:04pm

LAYTON -- A large, steel mounting pole, used to support a billboard, is laying on the ground next to Interstate 15.

A construction crew planned to erect the pole Saturday, but after phone calls from a state senator, whose parents live across the street from the proposed site, the project was put on hold.

City council members will discuss the site at tonight's city council meeting and may vote on a new location, one that the city was previously opposed to, for the billboard.

Sen. Stuart Adams, R-Layton, called Layton city officials and the Utah Department of Transportation to inquire about the placement of the billboard. Adams said he would have made the same calls if anyone else had informed him of their concerns surrounding the placement of the billboard.

"My parents are my constituents," Adams said. "And if there isn't a better location (for the sign) than on their property, then they would accept the sign."

The home on South Main Street, where Adams' parents live, faces I-15, and UDOT owns the land between I-15 and Main Street where the billboard was to be placed. But what frustrates Adams is that the city held no public hearing in which his parents and their neighbors could voice their concerns about the billboard placement.

"My parents were surprised no public hearing was held," he said.

The day the sign arrived at their home, which was a Saturday, was the day his parents were first made aware that their residential lot had been selected for the sign placement.

UDOT Region One spokesman Vic Saunders said the process UDOT was required to follow did not call for a time to notify homeowners. UDOT owns the land and, after meeting with city officials, selected that land as the site for the billboard.

"There is a very strict process about billboards, and where they can be placed," Saunders said. "We followed the rules. When people do have a concern and want it moved, we always work with the city to make sure we come up with a location where everyone is involved."

The billboard originally had to be moved when the Layton Parkway on-ramps and off-ramps were built and UDOT was responsible to find a new place for the sign.

"This is totally UDOT's decision and they dropped the ball big time by not informing the public where the billboard would go," Layton Mayor Steve Curtis said.

The Main Street location is contrary to where Ogden-based Saunders Outdoor Advertising, the owners of the billboard, wanted their sign to be located.

Ryan Saunders, vice president of Saunders Outdoor Advertising and not related to UDOT's Vic Saunders, said he had requested the billboard be placed further north, closer to Layton Hills Mall.

"The city didn't like that idea, so they came up with another site, at the Main Street location," Ryan Saunders said.

Curtis said that during a strategic planning meeting, city council members suggested potential sites for UDOT to consider. However, even though the decision was UDOT's, council members were against the proposed site near the mall.

"Currently there are no billboards from Hill Field Road to Antelope Drive on the east side of I-15," Curtis said. "The council did not want the billboard there, because that's kind of the vista of what Layton has to offer as you go down the freeway, and by blocking that vista, or regular business signs, that could be counterproductive to what has been planned over the years in development of that area."

As part of tonight's city council meeting, the council will discuss reconsidering its decision to put the billboard between the two freeway interchanges.

"The council was asked as to whether they wanted to entertain that thought, and they didn't have a problem with that as long as it was a public hearing," Curtis said. "It could have been handled administratively, but everything would have been under the table, and that's not Layton city's process."

It has been 18 months since the original billboard came down, and Ryan Saunders just wants the billboard back up so he can rent out the space. He does not care which location is chosen.

"Either way we're fine," he said. "We just want to get our sign relocated after a year and a half. It's been pretty damaging to our revenue and has been difficult for our advertisers to be down that long."

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