Clanton Planning Commission discusses billboard restrictions

Published 11:45 am Wednesday, July 13, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Now that the Clanton City Council has approved prohibiting new billboards for one-year, the Clanton Planning Commission has begun discussing the restrictions and changes it would like to see in an updated billboard ordinance.

The one-year moratorium is designed to give the city a plan to keep billboards in specific areas and from having too many thus negatively impacting the look of the town.

The Clanton Planning Commission looked at the existing ordinance and changes that could be made during a July 12 meeting.

Although existing billboards would be allowed to remain, building inspection Gene Martin suggested a clause in the updated ordinance that would require an existing billboard be removed if “they are not renting them after 30 days.”

He said there are some in the city limits that are no longer in use and have fallen into disrepair.

Other board members agreed that they would like to see this added.

Mayor Jeff Mims recommended prohibiting billboards in the city limits on Highway 31, Highway 145 and Highway 22. He mentioned wanting to limit billboards to the interstate only.

Mims said billboard lighting should also be addressed in an updated ordinance to keep them from being too bright.

Martin said the LED billboards with changing images can be distracting. He said there are no regulations prohibiting them and guidelines needed to be added to the zoning ordinance

Board member and city councilman Wade Watley said LED billboards with blue backgrounds can make drivers think there is a police car behind them. He agreed the changing of the screen can also be distracting.

The zoning ordinance already states billboards must be at least 200 feet away from a residential zone. Martin said a further restriction could be removing them from the business zoning districts.

In addition to having the proper paperwork filed with the city before putting up a billboard, some locations also require a permit from the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Those wanting an exception to the updated restrictions on billboards would be able to take the issue to the Board of Adjustments and Appeals.

Martin asked board members to review the current ordinance and come back with recommendations on changes.

Watley said contacting Cullman and Wetumpka on how they have handled this issue would be good.

“Some towns that have maybe died out and brought back, rebuilt might be some good folks to talk to,” he said.

Martin also suggested talking to Prattville. Board member David McCary said Pelham might also be a good city to talk to.

Chief of Staff Bob Woods asked if the ordinance could include restricting “offensive” elements from being put on signs.

Martin and Mims said this needs to be looked into.

Also, during the July 12 meeting, Martin suggested a review of the ordinance that determines the requirements for business owners using a portion of their home to do business. These home businesses are required to have a home occupation permit from the city. Currently, the ordinance prohibits such a business from being in an accessory building to the house. Martin said this could be updated to allow an existing accessory building to be used for the business. Mims said he was in favor of this, if there were restrictions to keep it from being car or boat repair work in a residential area.

Martin said a language such as “as long as it is not offensive to the neighborhood” could be included.

A vote on each of these issues is expected in the future.