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In St. Pete, a decision on digital billboard expected today

By on August 16, 2012

On Thursday, the City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the fate of digital billboards in St. Petersburg, reports William Mansell of Patch.

However, if the Council of Neighborhood Associations has its way, the Council will table a vote until it can review Clearwater’s recently passed billboard ordinance.

On Wednesday, the members of CONA voted to send a letter to the Council requesting a delay on the digital billboard decision. “All we’re asking is to defer the vote until after they have had a chance to review the Clearwater billboard bill,” said CONA member Barbara Heck.

Heck and the members of CONA did not specify what they wanted the Council to look at in the Clearwater ordinance.

The ordinance under consideration proposes that Clear Channel Outdoors remove 80 static (non-moving) billboards and replace them with six digital billboards.

The digital billboards would be located on or near Interstate 275:

  • I-275 and Gandy
  • I-275 and Gandy
  • I-275 and 13th Avenue N
  • I-275 and 22nd Street S
  • I-275 and 4th Avenue S
  • 175 and 12th Street S

According to city documents, “allowing digital billboards in St. Petersburg has been reviewed by the administration in the context of an opportunity to significantly reduce the number of static billboards and to increase the City’s marketing and public information capability.”

Under the proposed agreement, Clear Channel would remove all 80 static billboards prior to the first digital billboard being built.

The ordinance would also require that billboards be made available to the city and other public agencies for public service announcements, such as evacuations, Amber Alerts, cop killer alerts and notice of city-sponsored special events.

Tampa, South Pasadena and Pinellas Park already allow the billboards.

After the first reading, new amendments to the ordinance include: a calculation adjustment of the number of actual billboards Clear Channel owns, that Clear Channel must remove debris and foundations from billboards it tears down and that billboards near schools cannot have advertisements for products that cannot legally be sold to minors.

The agreement, if apporoved, provides a 20-year sunset that requires digital billboards to be replaced with a static billboard within 20 years.

While CONA wants to delay a vote, according to a June poll conducted by StPetePolls, 64 percent of St. Pete respondents were in favor of digital billboards.

The Development Review Committee unanimously approved the billboards on June 6.

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