Billboard Battle Comes Back to the Burnsville Council

The council is expected to hold a public hearing on Tuesday night to discuss whether to allow dynamic display billboards in certain areas of the city.


The question of allowing dynamic display billboards in Burnsville deeply divided the Burnsville City Council during a meeting in June. Tonight, that debate is set to begin anew.

During a regular council meeting tonight, the council is expected to hold a public hearing to discuss a proposed ordinance amendment that would allow dynamic display billboards along the city's interstate and arterial corridors.

The proposed amendment, as it currently stands, would permit companies to convert existing, traditional billboards in Burnsville into digital signs on the condition that they remove at least one other standing billboard in the city. The new, dynamic display billboards would only be allowed in I-1 and I-2 districts in the city.

Only static images would be allowed on the billboards—flashing lights or animation would be prohibited under the proposed amendment. To reduce the distraction for drivers, each message would have to be displayed on the sign for a minimum of eight seconds.

Traditionally, the city has taken a hard line against roadside signage. The current ordinance stipulates that all existing billboards be gradually phased out. Billboards are grandfathered in until the land is developed or redeveloped, at which point they are "retired."

Current city ordinances also limit billboards from changing more than eight times per day. The ordinance prohibits owners from expanding or enhancing their existing signs, a clause that includes the addition of "any changeable copy technology"—such as an LED display.

The issue of billboards came to the fore last month, when council members were approached by Clear Channel, which asked them to reconsider the use of large LED signs within city limits. The city began discussion of the ordinance at a June 12 work session and then on Aug. 13 directed staff to prepare an ordinance amendment for consideration.

The ordinance has already drawn criticism from CBS Outdoor, which pointed out in a letter to the council that requiring a company remove a billboard before installing a dynamic display sign favors Clear Channel.

Check back tomorrow on Burnsville Patch for updates to this ongoing issue.


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