As you know, the vote to ban conventional billboards, digital billboards, and electronic message center is on the agenda for Monday. We have listened to arguments for, arguments against, and received numerous emails from citizens throughout Knox County. Most of us agree we need to do something yet some commissioners also feel strongly a compromise of some sort is more in order than an outright ban.
I have met with several of the smaller, local billboard and EMC companies that are based in Knox County. Most are small family businesses that would be adversely affected by a total ban of all billboards and EMC’s. The message I receive is “let’s regulate, not ban”. The small company owners are not opposed to sitting down with the MPC, environmental groups, homeowner associations, and local government representatives and working on regulations that everyone can live with.
Consequently, I would like to withdraw the ordinances banning conventional billboards and electronic message centers. The ordinance pertaining to the digital billboards would be left on the agenda to ban both the conversion of conventional billboards to digital billboards and a ban on any new digital billboards. The emails we have received from many citizens make it clear that a large number of voters do not want any more digital billboards in our community. Beyond the obtrusive and esthetic objections, the digital billboards are another distraction to already dangerously distracted drivers.
I hope this proposal is the compromise many of you have been looking for. We are listening to both our local small business owners who ask that we “regulate, not ban” and to innumerable citizens who feel passionately that we already have too much outdoor advertising.