- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) - The Columbus City Council may allow billboards along U.S. Highway 45 North and portions of Mississippi Highway 182.

The change, if adopted, would lift a billboard ban in effect in the city limits of Columbus for 14 years.

The Commercial Dispatch reports (https://bit.ly/1p8KX1r) the changes would come to areas in the city zoned Highway Commercial. It would include all property in those zones, city-owned or otherwise.

The council is expected to take up the rules Oct. 21.

City Attorney Jeff Turnage said Leonard Busby, owner of a digital billboard company in Laurel, is asking for the change. Busby has a digital billboard near Lion Hills Golf Club and hopes to place more around the city, Turnage said.

Councilman Charlie Box suggested that allowing billboards in the city that were not already grandfathered in before the ban may distract drivers.

“Why do we need a bunch of those signs stuck up all over town?” Box said. “We’ve had a sign ordinance for a long while and it seems to be working pretty good. Those signs give off a lot of light. It looks to me like they would distract drivers and may even be a safety hazard.”

The proposal before the council would put in place 11 regulations for parties interested in erecting billboards in permitted areas.

On-premise billboards, or signs advertising services provided on the property where the sign is, are permitted. The exemption would allow for off-premise billboard advertising, most typically large-format sign advertising.

The billboards could not be placed closer than 1,000 feet within each other in any direction and can be a maximum of two single-sided panels or one double-sided panel.

The sign itself could not be bigger than 400 square feet and couldn’t be closer than 50 feet from the right of way of any public street. It could not be more than 40 feet above the road and couldn’t have beacons, banners or similar features. Digital billboards would be allowed as long as the message doesn’t change more than once every eight seconds.

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Information from: The Commercial Dispatch, https://www.cdispatch.com

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