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S.L. County may tear up ’97 billboard ordinance

Council will air issue that would restrict big signs

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The Salt Lake County Council is scheduled to review, and possibly revoke, a controversial 4-year-old ordinance decried by billboard opponents when it was adopted.

County Council member Jim Bradley was ready to rescind the ordinance Tuesday on the spot but was held in check by his colleagues who said they wanted a full airing on the issue.

"I don't think there is any question that the public would support a change that would make it more restrictive for billboards," Bradley said.

"The politicians are the ones who usually roll over, because they use the signs to get re-elected."

In 1997, much to the dismay of environmentalists and many residents, the Salt Lake County Commission voted to relax standards allowing more billboards in communities.

The measure, pushed by Reagan Outdoor Advertising, allowed larger, higher billboards in more locations and closer to residential zones. Reagan officials say the change allowed the company more freedom to maintain existing billboards and find new space to replace former billboard spots lost to development.

Since then, Bradley says the signs have cropped up everywhere.

"It gets to be more and more, and they're in intrusive places," he said. "There has to be a point where you say enough is enough."

But County Council member Randy Horiuchi, who was one of the commissioners in 1997 to approve the billboard ordinance, cautioned Bradley against embarking on a crusade when the facts aren't in.

"You're under the assumption there has been a proliferation of billboards," he said. "I am not sure I've seen that."

County Council member Steve Harmsen reacted with skepticism.

"How can you say that? All you have to do is look at 2100 South."

Bradley asked the county mayor's office to prepare an executive summary describing the county's purview of billboards and what has happened since the ordinance's adoption.

The council is scheduled to discuss the billboard issue in detail on Sept. 18.

E-MAIL: amyjoi@desnews.com