News and Tribune

April 24, 2014

Clarksville could allow electric signs on interstates

Councilman: Concerns about political signs addressed

By MATT KOESTERS
matt.koesters@newsandtribune.com

CLARKSVILLE — Electronic billboards could be placed every 1,000 feet along Interstates 65 and 265 through Clarksville if the town’s new sign ordinance is approved.

The Clarksville Town Council addressed proposed changes to the ordinance at a work session following the council’s Monday meeting, which would not AFFECT the town’s policy on electronic signs elsewhere within municipal boundaries, said town Planning Director Sharon Wilson.

Town Council President Bob Polston said he expected that any new electronic signage along the interstates would replace existing static billboards.

“Being that way right now currently, the billboard saturation is there,” Polston said. “I don’t think there’s room for any new ones, so the only thing they may do is refurbish the ones that are currently there and turn them into electronic billboards.”

The new ordinance also seeks to clarify the ban on political signage that exceeds 16 square feet in area. The town attempted to enforce its ordinance against property owners who had displayed 32-foot signs in support of state Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, during the 2012 election cycle, but dropped the matter after ambiguity in the language of the current ordinance was pointed out by Clere’s attorney, Rick Fox.

“That brought up some need to clear it up, yes,” Polston said.

The new ordinance would allow political signage to be posted on private property up to 60 days prior to an election, and on public property up to 30 days prior.

“Not everyone wanted the signs to be allowed on public property, but the consensus was that those would be allowed with the exception of medians and areas where the town has landscaping,” Councilman John Gilkey said, “and in particular, areas where they have a membrane to prevent weeds growing up, primarily within a median.”

The new ordinance would still allow magnetic political signage on cars, something that a previous draft of the ordinance would have banned, Gilkey said.

The Clarksville Plan Commission must review the language of the draft and vote on a recommendation for the ordinance prior to the town council giving its final approval.

Wilson said she expected that the town could have the new ordinance approved in June.