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Billboard battle heating up in Jax

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Updated: 8/02/2013 8:21 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville City Council may consider new billboard legislation that some worry opens the door to billboards going up on land that is currently restricted.

A thick, scenic tree-line marks the backdrop along Jacksonville’s Butler Blvd.

JTB is billboard-free and Bill Brinton with Scenic America wants to keep it that way.

"We've gotten that way through 25 years of steadfast efforts to remove billboards, visual clutter from our landscape,” said Brinton. “Beauty is good for business."

Action News has learned new legislation, backed by the billboard industry, could tweak a Duval county charter currently banning new billboards.

“We did it by the voters of Duval county going to the polls and passing a referendum by a landslide vote on May 26, 1987,” said Brinton.

Court battles followed over the years. Billboard companies sued to retain its rights on Jacksonville's roadways.

The City of Jacksonville made about a dozen settlement agreements which are set to expire.

The new ordinance, proposed by councilman Richard Clark, aims to regulate outdoor advertising structures, but it would strike the outright ban.

Action News reached out to a representative with the billboard industry who stated “For the past 20 years, billboards in Jacksonville have been regulated by a dozen different court-approved legal agreements,” said Brent Bolick. “And during the course of the past 20 years, the industry has removed more than 900 billboards throughout the city. Those agreements are now beginning to expire, and the law is unclear as to how the industry will be regulated going forward.”

In today’s digital age, Brinton says new billboards will sacrifice roadway safety. “Frequently changing, drawing the attention of drivers away from the road to see a commercial message is not safety."

“The proposed ordinance simply attempts to establish a uniform and fair set of rules that allow our industry to continue playing a vital role in our partnerships with law enforcement, the City of Jacksonville, local businesses and the non-profit community,” said Bolick.

You can express your opinion at a public hearing scheduled for August 13 at City Hall.

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wishmistress - 8/3/2013 5:31 AM
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The LAST THING that Jax drivers need is yet another road distraction! Please...hang it up, put it down, turn around and DRIVE...Uhm, like 'your life depends on it?' ...and OURS TOO! Between the 'alert' signs and the electronic billboards, what part of watching for the next sentence doesn't seem to compute with folks? As I said before, when will lawyers start using these signs to advertise for business due to accidents from road distraction reading these signs?
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