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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sussex County Council Considers Electronic Billboards

GEORGETOWN, Del. - Electronic billboards could soon light up across Sussex County.
The county council is considering a proposal to allow the digital devices on commercial land with a special use permit.
"It's a plus for technology and it's just going to open many doors to advertise for people who just couldn't do so in the past," said Lynn Rogers, a former county councilman who owns a sign company in Milton.
Rogers said electronic billboards are different than smaller electronic signs many drivers see next to businesses; the boards would be restricted to showing a frozen image.
"There's no animation at all and when the sign changes, there's no flipping, running off the side," said Rogers. "It just changes in one second with a blip."
The high tech signs would be cheap and easy for advertisers to change, Rogers said. That could allow customers to advertise a weekend event.
There is one electronic billboard in Delaware along Interstate 95 in New Castle County.
Sandy Spence of Lewes is concerned about the digital devices.
"They offer huge distractions," said Spence. "Especially as our population is aging, it's going to make things even worse."
While applicants would be required to take part in a public hearing and seek approval from the board of adjustment, Spence said individual property owners would have a tough battle convincing the board to deny an application under the current law.
"People criticize them for approving everything but the reason is they don't have a basis for turning things down," Spence said.
During Tuesday's meeting, Councilman George Cole, R-Ocean View, questioned whether additional restrictions were needed to limit electronic billboards to major highways.
With a starting price of roughly $225,000, Rogers said most owners and advertisers would not bother placing the boards on smaller, low-traveled roads.

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