Carroll planners are urged to ban billboards Residents, businesses say they mar scenery

April 08, 1996|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,SUN STAFF

Tired of more and more billboards adding to the visual pollution along the county's congested highways, South Carroll residents and businesses are pushing county officials to ban the signs.

"They're springing up around here like cornstalks," said Carolyn Fairbank of Eldersburg. "These are not small signs but huge billboards. It looks like Ritchie Highway. I think the county needs to address the aesthetics and quality of life here."

Ms. Fairbank and others argue that billboards are eyesores, detracting from the beauty of the countryside, and are safety hazards because they distract drivers. Many billboards are concentrated around Routes 26 and 32 in Eldersburg.

County planners have begun wrestling with the issue. A ban on new billboards was among several proposed changes to the county's sign regulations. The planning commission has recommended that billboards be addressed separately, however.

"It seems as though there is a need for more dialogue to be sure we're doing this right," said Dave Duree, planning commission chairman. "Rather than hold up the rest of the [regulations], we decided the billboard ban should be handled on its own merits."

Joe Mettle, a planning commission member, said several issues need to be addressed, including how to deal with existing billboards throughout the county. Some people have suggested that existing billboards be phased out. Others have recommended they be replaced with small highway signs that advertise several businesses -- like those in Columbia.

Sign company representatives, meeting with the planning commission in late February, deemed the proposed ban on billboards sudden and excessive. They said that the signs perform a service and they've had no complaints.

"We need to come up with something that sign makers like, that advertisers like and that the people like," Mr. Mettle said.

Pub Date: 4/08/96

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