County OKs moratorium on billboards

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By Chris Sardelli

No more billboards can be erected along large parts of S.C. 9 and U.S. 521 for the next year.

County Council approved final reading of an ordinance Monday that imposes the one-year moratorium on issuing of permits to erect new billboards. It restricts new billboard construction on S.C. 9, from the Chester County line to the western boundary of the city of Lancaster, and on U.S. 521, from the city of Lancaster to the North Carolina border.

Lancaster resident Randy Collins voiced his opposition to the moratorium.

“I know you do a lot of good things for a lot of good people, but I wanted to make sure I got it on the record. I think this billboard moratorium is bad,” Collins said.

Collins said halting the creation of new billboards can hurt sign installers and maintenance crews, as well as salespeople.

“The biggest thing you eliminate is all the business that won’t be advertised and all the products that won’t be sold because of a lack of advertising,” Collins said. “I want you to think of that, even if you don’t want to think of it.”

The moratorium does not affect billboards that are already standing. The advertisements on them may be changed out.

Council Chairman Rudy Carter said he hasn’t heard much reaction from the public, but said some people seem to be misinformed. The moratorium won’t be used to eliminate all billboards, but will instead allow county officials time to analyze the proper locations to allow billboards.

“I think it’s quite appropriate for what we’re trying to do,” Carter said. “I’m not certain it’s the answer, but at least we’ll have time to think it over.”

He said the moratorium will only last for one year or until the U.S. 521/S.C. 9 corridor study is complete. The study is looking at traffic and land-use issues on the busy highways. The study includes an examination of billboards on those corridors.  

Carter said it’s important that the county have a handle on the placement of new billboards. Once they are erected, the county cannot simply force billboard owners to dismantle their signs. State law would require the county to pay the owner 20 years of rent for the billboard before having the owner dismantle the signage, Carter said.

“Once the decision is made on a billboard, you can’t go back and change it,” he said.

Council also:  

u Moved final reading of an ordinance about the exchange of land for Roy Hardin Park in Indian Land to a later date.  County Administrator Steve Willis said attorneys are still working to finalize the details of the exchange. The paperwork should be ready by the next meeting, Willis said.

u Voted 4-2 to approve a resolution that allows council to partner with York County Council in submitting an application for funding to the State Infrastructure Bank. Funds will be sought for the proposed extension of Dave Lyle Boulevard from York County. Councilmen Cotton Cole and Jack Estridge dissented.

Contact reporter  Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416