City Council special meeting, March 6, 2015, electronic sign resolution

Councilman Peter Wright expresses disappointment and outrage that Jefferson County staff permitted an electronic billboard facing Homewood without any advance notice. None is required by law or policy.

Councilman Peter Wright expresses disappointment and outrage that Jefferson County staff permitted an electronic billboard facing Homewood without any advance notice. None is required by law or policy.

With 35 people in attendance the City Council passed a resolution this afternoon “deploring” the construction of an enormous electronic interstate sign at the BP station on Lakeshore Drive. Earlier in the 45-minute meeting, council members, with Vance Moody absent, voted to enter executive session to hear in private advice from the city attorney any legal options the city may exercise to delay or halt the sign’s construction. The brightly illuminated “interstate sign,–touted by its owner as the only sign of such proportions sitting in a city intersection– is due to be lit up in a week or  so.

The sign property, owned by Circle K, Inc. and leased to local business owner David Dubose of New Point Digital, is in unincorporated Jefferson County, which followed the county’s regulations before issuing the permit.

Before passing the resolution, the council invited Homewood’s Jefferson County representative, Commissioner David Carrington, to address the sign issue. Carrington, who the day before issued a statement about the property’s legal and zoning history,  (C-1 in Jefferson County by court order), recommended that the residents of Homewood boycott the businesses involved, i.e. stop buying snacks and gas at BP and Circle K–or refrain from buying advertising from New Point Digital. This would bring “economic pressure” to bear, he said.

[Asked after the meeting if this course of action would bring BP Oil to its knees, Mr. Carrington said no, but it might adversely affect the local franchisee. Asked if the local franchisee’s response would be to uproot the sign, he said that was also unlikely.]

To Carrington’s remarks, Mr. Hawkins said the council would follow up with an investigation of the safety of such a sign at that intersection. However, it was Mr. Wright who expressed the most outrage that the county and its staff would approve such a massive project on the border with another jurisdiction, without any notice.

“There needs to be some cognizant thought that, ‘Hey there’s a giant billboard going in 300 feet and several inches from a residential area,’ he said, referencing the minimal distance the sign sits outside the 300 feet required by county ordinance. ‘I’d like you to pass that on. Something as dramatic as this– I would really have liked to think good communication would have helped.”

SIGNGOINGINThat said, neither the council nor Mr. Carrington announced any initiative to assure better communication in the future. Mr. Jones then made public the phone number for Mr. DuBose: 205-224-5815 [THIS NUMBER HAS BEEN CORRECTED]  221-5815 (cell), and email address, at ddubose@newpointoutdoor.com.

Ms. Reid added her remarks, noting that the sign sits at the city’s only signal-protected pedestrian and bicycle crossing to the Greenway trail.

The council and residents were blindsided by the development until construction of the massive sign support came out of the ground earlier this week. Mr. Carrington said he learned about it when Homewood Mayor Scott McBrayer called him Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. The council drew up a first-draft resolution censuring the county for permitting the sign, but later toned down the language while the county representative seemed to be helping, council president Bruce Limbaugh said.

Some residents attending were frustrated by the lack of specific response either from Carrington, or council members. A man stood up after adjournment asking why the council wasn’t filing a request for a temporary restraining order to halt construction.

Members present: Michael Hallman, Britt Thames, Fred Hawkins, Patrick McClusky, Walter Jones, Barry Smith, Heather Reid, Peter Wright and Bruce Limbaugh, council president. Also present was Mayor Scott McBrayer.

Members absent: Vance Moody; Walter Jones arrived during the executive session.

Staff present: City clerk Linda Cook, city attorney Mike Kendrick, mayor’s chief of staff J. J. Bischoff, Building, Engineering and Zoning staff Greg Cobb.

Audience attendance: 35

Passed a resolution “deploring” the electronic billboard sign being built at the BP on Lakeshore Drive. The measure passed unanimously, with Vance Moody absent.

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2 responses to “City Council special meeting, March 6, 2015, electronic sign resolution

  1. Thousands of cities and counties ban billboards to protect their uniqueness and beauty. Four states ban billboards altogether; Alaska, Maine, Vermont, and Hawaii. Billboards are litter on a stick and damage neighboring property values. This billboard will deter any quality real estate development on nearby property. Someone might build a car wash or a pawn shop but certainly no high quality office buildings.

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