Billboard bill backed
February 3, 2012
Two proposed bills in the Utah House of Representatives and the Utah State Senate could pave the way for billboards to be erected throughout Summit County.
House Bill 87, sponsored by Mel Brown (R-Coalville) and Senate Bill 136, sponsored by Wayne Neiderhauser (R-Sandy) would prohibit a county or municipality from enacting or enforcing billboard ordinances that contradicted laws set by the state.
Summit County’s current sign code prohibits billboards due to size and height restrictions. Summit County Community Development Director Don Sargent said that all the billboards in the county have been removed and the current code has a provision that allows the County Manager to remove a billboard if the owner is given reasonable notice, a public hearing is held and the billboard appears to be in disrepair or has been abandoned for 12 months.
If either of the two bills pass, Summit County’s billboard rules would be overturned by the new state rules allowing landowners to place billboards on their property as long as they comply with certain set-back requirements and other guidelines. The new bill would also prohibit a local government from making rules that restrict illuminated or digital billboards.
"We are watching this bill carefully because of the potential impact it could have for many people," Sargent said. "We are especially wary of the impact this could have along Interstate 80 and the potential for a lot of billboards on that stretch of road."
Sargent added that local governments across the country are watching the two bills to see what kind of impact they may have.
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Park City Mayor Dana Williams said the city was opposed the bill and the power it would give to billboard companies.
Interim Assistant City Manager Diane Foster said city staff members are against the bill as it is written because it allows billboard companies too much latitude and would make it so any billboard could be illuminated.
"We only have one billboard in Park City so these bills do not affect us as much," Foster said. "But it could take away our control over new billboards and would require the city to purchase a billboard if it did not want it to be changed, lighted or built."
As of Wednesday, Senate Bill 136 was being held pending further research and support and House Bill 87 was being reviewed by the Utah House of Representatives Standing Committee.