Portage panel OKs billboards despite restrictions

2013-08-19T17:51:00Z 2013-08-19T20:20:18Z Portage panel OKs billboards despite restrictionsJoyce Russell joyce.russell@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2222 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | The Utility Services Board recently approved a contract to locate two billboards on water reclamation plant property despite significant restrictions on the signs.

View Outdoor Advertising of Merrillville proposed locating two billboards on city property facing Interstate 94. The city would be paid $4,000 per year, per sign or 20 percent of the net revenue, whichever is greater. The contract is for three years.

However, that doesn't mean erecting the signs is a done deal.

Director of Public Works A.J. Monroe said the city, through its zoning code, has significant restrictions on placing billboards in the city. The signs will require variances from the city's Board of Zoning Appeals.

Monroe told the Utility Services Board its approval might put an undo burden on the BZA to approve the signs.

"The BZA is being put in a spot if the utility sends a favorable recommendation for the billboards," Monroe told the board before it voted.

"View doesn't want to go through the BZA process without an OK here," Mayor James Snyder told the board. "We don't want to put pressure on the BZA."

The board added to its motion that the contract would be approved only if variances are granted by the BZA.

Monroe said after the meeting that he is concerned because the zoning code spacing requirement between signs would have to be met.

Monroe said billboards were proposed for the area when he served as city planner under a different administration and weren't allowed because they didn't meet requirements for spacing between the signs.

Many of the billboards erected along Interstate 94 were constructed prior to the code's adoption and have been grandfathered in, said Monroe, adding that those too must receive review and approval if they are reconstructed.

 

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