The Rapid City Billboard Ordinance Debate

April 17, 2013

As of late, it seems as if the topic of billboard ordinance is popping up in municipal areas across the country as a subject of hot debate—Rapid City is no exception. According to the American Planning Association, city planners have pinpointed local signage code and control issues as one of the primary—and also most problematic—troubles that local governments find themselves facing. After all, billboards tend to be rather large in size, and their inclusion in many rural, residential, and scenic areas is not as simple in the eyes of the public as it may seem.

As always, there are two extremities to the billboard ordinance issue:

PRO Billboard Ordinance

Across the nation, countless local communities have begun to adopt ordinances for signage code, specifically in the case of billboards, that aim to defend the aesthetic, characteristic, and economic qualities of the terrain surrounding roadways. However, the signage code issue is also about safety. In the eyes of the pro billboard ordinance, effective billboard control programs also shield the safety, general wellbeing, and overall public health of residents.

ANTI Billboard Ordinance

On the other side of the coin, outdoor advertising professionals claim that the only thing a billboard ordinance does is inflate the price of this particular medium. Unfortunately, rising prices can make off-premise, roadside advertising too expensive for many small, local businesses that benefit from it most; especially in areas driven by tourism. Such is the case with western South Dakota signs found along major travel routes…

The Gray Area of Billboard Ordinance

Like most things in life, the billboard ordinance dichotomy presented above is not as black and white as it seems. It cannot be divided across a distinctive line of communities that use signage code to ban billboards altogether, tearing down every pre-established billboard in sight—and communities that let these roadside advertisements run rampant across their interstates, highways, and municipal roads.

When it comes to billboard signs, South Dakota is an excellent example of a gray area between these two sides of the argument. However, like most starkly divided politic arguments, neither side of the coin ever seems to end up completely happy with the gray area they land in.

In June of last year, the Rapid City city council met and ratified new ordinances and a handful of additional rules in an attempt to come to a signage code compromise. Because we’re discussing billboards here, some specific rules for off-premise billboard signage are as follows:

  1. Quantity: this rule puts a limit on how many billboards a company can have standing at any given time with a specialized sign credit system. When a company reaches the limit, they must tear down one existing billboard in order to erect a new one.
  2. Animation: under new ordinances, roadside billboards can no long have animated features.
  3. Scrolling Messages: although animation is banned, billboards can still have scrolling static messages. However, these digital displays must have an 8-second lapse between each message.
  4. Brightness of Signs: one of the greatest things about living in western South Dakota is the complete lack of light pollution. Star-speckled skies can still be enjoyed on cloudless nights, and this new control over billboard brightness aims to make sure it stays this way.

At the end of the debate, billboard advertising is still available to Rapid City businesses that want to make the most of this roadside media option. As long as there are still billboards standing, Conrad’s Big “C” Signs of Rapid City is ready and prepared to assist in the design of your billboard wrap.

For more information about our billboard wrap design services, click here.


Last Modified: 04-17-2013-13:29:13

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