Council bans electronic billboards

Monday, April 7, 2008 | 10:18 p.m. CDT; updated 3:05 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

COLUMBIA — The City Council voted unanimously on Monday night to ban all billboards containing moving parts or electronic signs.

The amendment to the city codes is designed to prevent drivers from being distracted by the moving signs, including billboards with “revolving, moving, flashing, blinking or animated characteristics.”

Billboard code

The City Council voted unanimously Monday to amend Chapter 23 of the City Code as it relates to billboards. The amendment outlaws billboards with displays that are: — electronic — digital — tri-vision — other changeable copy display Exceptions include gas station and bank signs.

The amendments approved Monday are not the same as those approved 7-1 by the Planning and Zoning Commission last month as tri-vision billboards were deleted.

Former Fifth Ward Councilman Karl Kruse, speaking on behalf of Scenic Missouri, successfully urged the council to delete the part of the amendment that would allow the tri-vision billboards.

Tri-vision billboards, which can carry multiple advertisements for different companies on one billboard, are motorized to rotate. The effect resembles shutting Venetian blinds. The advertisements change up to 10 times a minute, and council members agreed that these billboards were contrary to the ordinance’s objectives.

“This is one of those rare times I want to make a point to disagree with the Planning and Zoning Commission,” said Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala.

Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe also voiced their opposition to tri-vision billboards.

Billboards are defined by the city as off-premise signs, and the amendment will not affect on-site electronic signs, such as those that display prices at gas stations or bank signs that display time and temperature.

The council also unanimously approved the design concept proposed for the City Hall expansion. The design is artist Howard Meehan’s second attempt. His newest design includes a large statue of a keyhole that would be placed in a plaza in front of City Hall.

Ted Stephens, a member of the Standing Committee on Public Art and the Commission on Cultural Affairs, said both groups had approved the submission, pointing out there is rarely a consensus when it comes to art. Like an individual’s favorite food, he said, “everyone has different tastes.”

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