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DDI: no stand on 'blinking billboards'

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Downtown Durham Inc. is taking no position on the digital billboard issue.

"Members of the Board could come to no consensus on whether or not digital billboards brought value or harm to a community," DDI President Bill Kalkhof wrote Thursday to Fairway Outdoor Advertising, which wants the city to change its billboard rules to allow, among other things, electronic roadside ads that can rapidly change messages.

Old West Durham neighborhood spokesman John Schelp, one of the leading voices opposed to the "blinking billboards," called DDI's decision "a victory for the community."

Durham's Unified Development Ordinance prohibits billboards, but those in place prior to the ban remain under a grandfather clause.

Fairway also wants the law amended to allow those billboards to be repaired, landscaped and relocated within the county. However, the company has not submitted a formal amendment application

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industry tactics backfire; thanks go to DDI board who spoke out

Billboard Industry Tactics to Circumvent Regulation

...the billboard industry uses standardized tactics to undermine local billboard control efforts. These include:

* Donating free billboard space for public service announcements. Their calculation: users of free billboard space will not support attempts at billboard regulation. Moreover, the industry uses these examples to undermine the positions of public interest groups who favor billboard reform.

* Donating free billboard space to politicians. In one industry publication, a company noted that it would be difficult for council members to support billboard control when they were using billboards themselves.

* Spending millions of dollars on contributions to local and state officials.

* Exaggerating the importance of billboards to local economies. There is no evidence whatsoever that local economies suffer when communities control billboards. What's more, with fewer than 14,000 employees nationwide, the billboard industry provides little in the way of employment to local residents.

* Threatening communities and citizens with lawsuits -- and actually suing in many cases -- to prevent them from implementing local ordinances. In their unsuccessful fight against Jacksonville's billboard removal, the billboard industry has acknowledged spending over $1 million in legal fees.

source: http://www.scenic.org/billboards/industry/tactics

~John Schelp

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About the blogger

Jim Wise is a Durham News/N&O reporter and columnist who follows city and county government land-use and neighborhood issues. He's author of "Durham: A Bull City Story" and "Durham Tales: The Morris Street Maple, the Plastic Cow, the Durham Day That Was and More ... "
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