El Paso City Council votes further research needed before amending billboard ordinance

City Delays Billboard Ordinance Vote

EL PASO, Texas - City leaders said Tuesday they need more time to decide whether to change the City's billboard ordinance to make it more like the Texas Department of Transportation's.

The real issue is what's going to happen to billboards in the way of City roadway projects.

Representatives from advertising companies Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar would like a billboard to be relocated to a similar-type commercial or industrial location, but said to council members that because of the strict city ordinance sometimes relocation might not be possible.

If that were the case, the company would need to be reimbursed and sometimes that bill can be charged to the City.

El Paso is certainly growing. Two current TxDOT projects, Loop 375 and Spur 1966, are evidence of the expansion.

TxDOT's state billboard rules allows relocated billboards to be 500 feet away from another sign instead of the current City ordinance that requires 1,500 feet.

"If we cannot move it on the same parcel of land then somewhere similar across the city that's zoned commercial or industrial," VJ Smith, President of Clear Channel Outdoor Albuquerque-El Paso, said. He mentioned a current project going on where a billboard will need to be relocated is Spur 1966, where the McKinney Wrecking sign off I-10 will need to be moved. The company doesn't know just yet how many more signs will need to be relocated.

District 8 City Rep. Cortney Niland didn't like how Clear Channel Outdoor asked to amend the current City billboard ordinance.

"They weren't here just asking for the 500 feet reduction. they were here asking for all sorts of things and so when you put that forward that causes misinformation and that creates heartburn," Niland said.

Niland and other City Council members even question if the discussion is needed at all since the city has never had to pay to condemn a billboard before. Clear Channel Outdoor said during their presentation Tuesday that if the city were to have to pay, costs can be anywhere up to $1 million.

District 5 City Rep. Dr. Michiel Noe said he agrees the City has never had to deal with this issue before.

"We're having to deal with right now because of all these roads being built. They're encroaching on billboards, billboards are having to be moved," Noe said.

Instead of voting to adopt TxDOT's billboard ordinance, council voted to have the city manager and city attorney research recent billboard activity and whether it will be good for the future of El Paso.

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