Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Rules Challenge Billboard Locations

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

New Rules Challenge Billboard Locations

Article excerpt

A change in the regulations for placement of billboards could result in revocation of up to 200 permits across the state and the industry has brought the issue to the Legislature.

The State Department of Transportation writes rules for placement of outdoor advertising, pursuant to Oklahoma law and an agreement between the state and the federal government.

John Swinney, president of the Oklahoma Outdoor Advertising Association, told members of the Senate Transportation Committee on Tuesday that a new interpretation of the 1972 agreement that resulted from enactment of the National Highway Beautification Act changes the method for determining the allowable placement of billboards. The dispute between outdoor advertisers and the State Department of Transportation is not over the fact that the interpretation has been changed but that the change is retroactive, which means that a sign that previously was legal will have to be removed without compensation to the owner. Until three or four years ago, Swinney said, the rule was that no billboard could be constructed within 500 feet, measured in a straight line, of a highway, park, school or other similar facility. The new rule sets a different basis for calculation, however. Jim Tidwell, legislative chair for the association, said that, under federal law, compensation must be made by the state for legal but nonconforming signs. "Can the department have a position for 15 to 20 years, then say it is just an error and we're going to revoke the permit and take your property?" Tidwell asked. "That amounts to just a change of mind." If something is not worked out, he said, the outdoor advertisers will have no choice but to take legal action against the state, he said. Sen. Dave Herbert, D-Midwest City, asked how many signs are affected by the change. …

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