Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Victoria can still have new advertisements

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Jan. 22, 2013 at 5:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2013 at 7:22 p.m.

Each town has its own unique atmosphere. Sometimes that image changes as time goes by and the economy shifts, but many times, a town holds on to its image, either through regulations such as zoning or something as simple as cultural influence.

Victoria is a city that feels like a small town. The proliferation of locally owned businesses across the city is a testament to the prosperity the city is currently experiencing, but economic prosperity brings its own concerns.

One topic that has been discussed in Victoria since 2004 is the number of billboards in Victoria. Some residents are concerned that allowing billboards anywhere without sufficient limits could hurt Victoria's image by flooding the streets and skyline with advertisements, as well as prove distracting to drivers in the city. Others say placing limits on billboards is a violation of business owners' rights to build or lease their property to whoever they wish.

Last August, the city council rejected an ordinance proposing a cap-and-trade system for new billboards in the city. Members of the council expressed concern that the proposal was too limiting for billboard companies who wanted to expand.

On Jan. 15, the city council passed an ordinance affecting off-premise and billboard signs. The ordinance drops the fee for a demolition permit while extending the separation distance between an existing billboard and a proposed billboard to 750 feet from 500 feet and removes the location review requirement for permitting.

We think this new ordinance is a much better option than the previous cap-and-trade proposal. As Councilman Joe Truman pointed out before the meeting, the expanded distance requirement will help limit the number of new billboards in the city without completely cutting off company growth. The number of billboards will grow in proportion to the growth of Victoria, balancing the rights of business owners to grow their business while still taking into account the need to prevent proliferation of potentially distracting advertisements along our city's roadways.

We applaud the city council for taking this step and finding a balance that meets the needs of both private business and the city. We hope this solution will be enough to settle the issue for years to come.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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