LAYTON -- City officials have adopted new sign regulations for electronic billboards, even with the cloud of potential litigation looming on the horizon.
The city council voted 4-0 on Thursday to adopt new sign guidelines regulating billboards. That vote came after a special session to discuss the possibility of a court challenge by Reagan Advertising, who suggests the guidelines put them at a disadvantage in the city with their competitors.
Reagan has four billboards within the city that have been identified as non-conforming. They must be relocated within the guidelines before they could be converted to a digital format. Company officials insist they have been unsuccessful in attempts to relocate the boards and feel the designated areas, outlined in the new guidelines, restrict their ability to find a viable resolution.
"To have the threat of litigation sort of takes away the spirit of cooperation. It's really discouraging. I thought we really reached out from the council then this letter from the law firm shows up. 'It's this way or no way.' Mr. Reagan, I hope we can continue to discuss this as time goes on," Councilman Scott Freitag, said prior to the vote.
Dewey Reagan, of the Salt Lake City-based company, spoke during a public hearing that preceded the vote, praising the cooperative effort the city made in addressing billboards along with industry members, but expressed some frustration with the result.
"We're going to try and get the signs relocated under what is proposed. I am not sure it will happen," Reagan said.
Besides the provision addressing some Reagan billboards, guidelines to convert existing billboards to a digital format drew some criticism. The guideline restricts full-size digital billboards of 672 feet to the Interstate 15 corridor and limits digital billboards to half that size on the Main Street or SR 193 corridors.
Ryan Young, a sales manager for Young Electric Sign Company, said the process of moving to digital should not be identified as a conversion with stipulations, but should be considered as an upgrade.
Rob Saunders, of Saunders Advertising, agreed.
"We don't feel we're creating a new use. We've had these billboards for 30 years. We simply display a message for our advertisers. It's a pay- to-play concept. It's not right for Layton City in one location to require us to give up half of our advertising. We should be allowed to use this new digital display, without giving up anything," Saunders said.
Along with addressing the conversion to electronic boards, the guidelines include a cap on the number of boards allowed and limit them to specific zones. The rules also address spacing requirements and potential height limitations.
Bill Wright, director of community and economic development, said the distance requirements help promote a more clutter-free setting for signage. He also suggested the new guidelines give flexibility to address potential concerns, like those echoed by Reagan about addressing non-conforming billboards.