Once again the battle of the billboards is being fought at Kansas City City Hall, as the city council considers a proposal to ease up on billboard regulation a little.
Councilman Ed Ford says when the city made its no new billboards rules in 2007, it drove the value of existing billboard locations up, and sometimes when a highway is to be widened the owner may demand $300,000 to $500,000 in compensation. "It's because under the existing ordinance there are no available billboard locations in the city," he said.
Ford proposes letting the owners move that billboard up to 100 feet and in return give up total billboard space equal to 75 percent of that one somewhere in the city, which critics point out could possibly mean several smaller and less profitable boards.
Carol Winterowd of Citizens Against Billboard Blight was among the many opposing the change. She told the Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee, "We have a model ordinance. Other cities look up to us. We've led the way in Missouri. Let's preserve that."
Supporters of the changes say negotiation and possible litigation over the billboards are delaying needed improvement projects.
After the current billboard ordinance was passed in September of 2007, outdoor advertising companies conducted an unsuccessful attempt to get enough petition signatures to force a public vote on its repeal.
Attempts to ease the law's provisions two years ago failed to get the approval of the city council.
The planning and zoning committee decided Wednesday to take more time to study the matter. They will discuss it again at their next meeting in two weeks.