A move by the billboard industry to do an end-run around the Indianapolis' current zoning restrictions against digital billboards through council action is meeting growing opposition. Last week, the Metropolitan & Economic Development Committee approved a proposal drafted by lobbyists for the billboard industry to dictate changes in the City's zoning laws it wants to see to specifically benefit the owners of existing billboards by allowing them a process to begin converting some of those static billboards to digital signs. That effort has outraged local neighborhood leaders. One early backer of the proposal, Joe Simpson (D), tells WTHR's Mary Milz he now plans to vote against it.
. . . Democratic Councilor Joe Simpson, who co-sponsored one proposal with Republican councilor Aaron Freeman, said he's been inundated with calls from opponents "upset this proposal was not brought before the community."
"This proposal jumped over our proposal. It came out of nowhere. I think they were just wrong the way they presented," Simpson said.
He plans to ask councilors to vote it down Monday and have backers return with a new proposal . . .Milz appears to be the only person in the local media to bother reporting on the issue to date. The debate has primarily taken place on local blogs and social media. You knew the billboard industry was getting worried when they stooped as low as to engage the egomaniac "opinion for hire" radio talk show host on WIBC to pimp for their cause.
UPDATE: I spoke too soon. Fox59 News' Liz Gelardi also has a story up now. Councilor Jeff Miller, who discussed his views on the issue on this blog, tells her he plans to vote against it.
. . . “The biggest issue is that the process hasn’t included the public so we have no basis on which to decide if the public wants digital billboards or not,” said Pat Andrews,
Council Member Jeff Miller said he plans to vote no on the proposal or send it back to committee for further debate.
“I think a lot of people are not even aware this is being discussed and then from there we need to facilitate those meetings for people to come learn about it, give feedback. You know a lot of people have good ideas, small things that can sometimes make a very big difference and that’s why it’s so important that people feel involved in the process,” said Miller.
Councillor Miller said he’s not necessarily against digital billboards he just wants to see more opportunity for residents to voice their concerns and ask questions . . .The billboard companies are seeking a delay in the vote previously-scheduled for next Monday night's council meeting. It looks like the proposal will be sent back to committee.