Updated Logan County Billboard Ordinance expands zoning, adds safety measures, affords new opportunities

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[January 07, 2017]  LINCOLN - In December, Logan County regulatory groups overseeing land use and local laws discussed zoning amendments to the Billboard Ordinance.

Discussions began with the Regional Planning Commission, which along with the Zoning Board of Appeals reviews land use requests.

Joe Malek of WC Media was present to answer questions about billboards. He represents the company that hopes to put up a billboard near Four Corners Lube.

Regional Planning Commission members present for the meeting on Dec. 7th were Commission Chairman Bill Graff, Vice Chairman Blair Hoerbert, Fred Finchum, Jeff Hoinacki, Ryan Murphy, Marty Neitzel, Chuck Ruben, Dave Schonauer and Jim Vipond. Logan County Zoning Officer Will D'Andrea and County Highway Engineer Bret Aukamp were also present.

D'Andrea said in July, the county was approached about constructing a billboard, but the county ordinance limits billboards to agricultural zoned areas near the interstate. D'Andrea said that conflicts with the state ordinance, which does not allow billboards in areas zoned agricultural.

D'Andrea said the Planning and Zoning Committee had been looking into adopting billboard regulations to "allow billboards in commercially zoned areas of unincorporated areas of Logan County."

D'Andrea said "after some discussion, the Planning and Zoning Committee basically adopted the city of Lincoln ordinance." Some minor language changes have been added.

The proposed ordinance listed several requirements.

For instance, billboards must only be placed on lands zoned B-1, B-2 and B-3 (Business) and comply with the "provisions" of these lands.

Many requirements relate to the size of the billboards. The board can only have four panels and the panels shall not be stacked above or below the other panels. The maximum area for a panel "shall be 300 square feet with a maximum vertical dimension of 15 feet and a maximum horizontal dimension of 20 feet." This dimension will include the "board and trim" but not the base, supports, or other structural members.

The ordinance says billboards cannot be located on a roof or "non-sign structure" and not attached to any other structure or building.

The billboard must be located in a place that does not "block the view of existing business signs on adjacent commercial properties from the public street."

The county is suggesting that billboards not be stacked on top of one another.

The ordinance also regulates the distance of the billboards from other structures. A billboard cannot be erected within 300 feet of any residentially zoned property or 35 feet of any existing building. It cannot be within 300 feet of any park, playground, school, library, or place of worship. Billboards cannot be erected within 75 feet of an overhead power line; 500 feet of another billboard; or 50 feet of a city or township right-of-way.

There are also regulations and restrictions for digital billboards since they can cause distractions and light spillover. The display can only change "once every ten seconds, with a transition period of one second or less." The billboard must have a monitor that can "automatically adjust the brightness level of the display." The light cannot exceed a certain level of brightness.

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The digital billboards must also comply with regulations and county ordinances relating to use, size and location.

A few commission members asked if a 15 X 20 foot billboard would be divided into four panels with four different advertisements.
 
 Joe Malek of WC Media said the panels would be the "faces" where the advertisements are placed and the four panels would actually be two side-by-side panels with the same ads on front and back so you could see them from both sides.
 
 Commission member Jim Vipond asked what was allowed with digital billboards. He said one digital billboard near Bloomington is distracting because of all the different messages.
 
 D'Andrea said the regulations for digital billboards have to do with frequency and movement of messages, how flashy it is, and the brightness. The billboard message could only change every ten seconds.
 
 Chairman Graff asked how many billboards Malek expects would go up if the ordinance was approved.
 
 Malek said everything is determined by "traffic counts," so "typically for us if there is a road that has over 7,000 cars a day," his company would consider placing a billboard there. He said "anything under 7,000 cars a day, with the expense that it takes to put one of these structures up and what we could sell an ad for, would not be worth our time."
 
 Malek said it is not likely "a bunch of billboards" will be "popping up in the county."
 
 After some brief discussion, Graff asked for a recommendation. Blair Hoerbert motioned for approval of the ordinance and commission members unanimously voted to recommend approval.

 The Zoning Board of Appeals approved the ordinance language at a public hearing on Thursday, December 7.
 
 The ZBA also recommended adding county highways as part of setbacks.

 At the December 20th voting session the Logan County Board approved the Billboard Ordinance with amendments to add setbacks for county, city and township right-of-ways, county highways, and 40 feet from power lines.
 
 [Angela Reiners]

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