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Commission hopes for 'billboard ban' compromise

8:55 PM, Nov 13, 2012   |    comments
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After several rounds of delays, Knox County Commissioners decided to wait another month to vote on the controversial billboard ban.

They scheduled a workshop for November 29 at 4 p.m. to hopefully hash out the details on what they want the new laws to accomplish.

They've had Commissioner Richard Brigg's proposal before them for weeks.

The proposed law would ban any new billboards in the county. It would also prohibit vinyl billboards from converting to digital and eliminate any electronic messaging centers.

Commission Chairman Tony Norman suggested the workshop  to offer a chance to wade through all the information they've been supplied by the public and billboard industry, and to define goals.

 

For example, Commissioner Mike Brown says he's gotten many conflicting answers about how many billboards already exist countywide.

Commissioner Sam McKenzie was the sole vote against the delay.

 

"I don't think votes are going to change," says McKenzie.  "We've been kicking this can down the road."

In addition to delaying the vote until their December agenda, they also intend to extend the existing moratorium on new billboard permits for an additional 30 days.

The current moratorium expires November 30 and some were concerned billboard suppliers would take advantage of commission's delay to apply for new permits.

Commissioner Mike Hammond says he would vote against the current proposal, as did Brad Anders and Dave Wright.

But he believes there could still be a compromise.

"I feel like that if we box the billboard industry in to a corner, they're going to file a lawsuit against us,"says Hammond." They've already filed a lawsuit against the City of Knoxville. I want to avoid that if we can."

The commission asked Law Director Bud Armstrong to research and present what laws the City of Knoxville are using to regulate the industry at the workshop.

They cited a possible desire to be consistent with city laws, which Armstrong has different rules depending on where the billboards stand.

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