LAYTON — City leaders will let the clock continue to tick down on a moratorium on billboards in this community, in hopes of getting a new sign ordinance in place that is acceptable to the industry, while also addressing the use of digital billboards.
Members of the city council and representatives from four billboard companies spent several hours Thursday, wrestling with small details of a proposed sign ordinance rewrite and amendment addressing billboards, before council members voted 4-0 to table the issue until a Nov. 15 meeting. The proposed ordinance was a key topic in a work session before the regular city meeting and then was the focus of a public hearing and extensive discussion in the regular session.
The council’s next meeting is scheduled just two days before a land-use moratorium on billboards is set to expire. Industry leaders said they would welcome an extension of the moratorium, if it allowed them to address concerns with the new ordinance.
City leaders set up a committee with staff, a representative from the business community and representatives from five sign companies, and have been working together to craft a workable ordinance that addresses billboard locations, the issue of electronic billboards, spacing requirements and potential height limitations.
The committee met five times since a moratorium was put in place in May, but billboard representatives didn’t see a final draft of the proposed ordinance until last week, and there were changes they did not like.
Dewey Reagan of Reagan Advertising said the revised ordinance goes way beyond addressing digital signs and said some of the new guidelines will be especially punitive to his company. The ordinance calls for Reagan to relocate four nonconforming signs to an approved location, before they would potentially be able to convert existing billboards to a digital format.
“The industry thinks this is unfair, as the city is providing the other three sign companies with a competitive advantage through governmental regulation,” Reagan argued.
He questioned the legality of the proposed language. He said his company has been attempting to move the four signs for several years and has been unable to do so because of regulatory barriers in the existing sign ordinance.
Reagan claims the barrier is the requirement that a billboard be placed at least 75 feet from any on-premise sign. He and other industry leaders asked city officials to consider changing that requirement.
Jared Johnson of Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) said the revised ordinance goes beyond the original scope of the moratorium. He cited the 75-foot rule, but said the guidelines on brightness for digital signs also need revision.
“We’re willing to give it more time if you are,” Johnson said of the rewrite.
Rob Saunders of Saunders Outdoor Advertising also complained that the new guideline for converting an existing billboard to a digital format is too high. The guideline sets a conversion ratio from traditional billboards to digital as part of a potential conversion.
Community and Economic Development Director Bill Wright said officials worked to be fair in rewriting the sign guidelines. He said the 75-foot guideline is in place to avoid a clutter of signs.
Wright said the new ordinance will not expand the number of billboards in the community, as there is a cap on that number, but said it could potentially open areas for billboard relocation. It also addresses curfews for digital signs.