Friday, February 11, 2011

A strong win at the Board of Zoning Appeals against LED billboards in neighborhoods

West Mead neighborhood leader Mina Johnson attended last week's meeting of Board of Zoning Appeals, which considers requests for changes or exceptions to zoning codes and rules. Mina has been among those leading the charge against LED billboards in residential neighborhoods for the past few years. She went to the meeting to speak against request for variance to allow an LED billboard 125 feet from residential properties around Lebanon Pike.

Her dispatch is notable because it reports an important win for neighborhood advocates and it gives us some helpful clues on how the murky process of zoning appeals work:

I am happy to report that the request to allow LED Billboard was denied.

There were 3 people from nearby neighborhood association and CM [Phil] Claiborne besides myself. I learned that BZA handle [their] meeting very differently from Planning Commission. They will give 15 minutes to applicant to present the case and 15 minutes for the opponent no matter how many people pack the room. During 15 minutes, the commissioners can stop the clock to ask questions to whomever presenting the case.

In our case, they asked,
  • Why don't you want LED in residential area?
  • What make you think having LED billboard nearby will affect the property value?
  • The applicant is suggesting to lower the height and dim it at night, will you reconsider your opposition?

It made me wonder if some of the commissioners, namely David Ewing and David Harper, want to promote LED sign in residential area.

At the end, the decision was easily made based on "No hardship was presented to grant the variance" The applicant, Jim Godsey appeared to be he was just testing the water if he could change existing billboard to LED. Though I must add he was very considerate of surrounding neighborhood. He said he did not want to upset neighbors and that the last thing he want. Commissioner Rebecca Lynford asked if he would withdraw it. He replied that what you all to decide. The request to deny the variance was the most desirable outcome for us and he was not upset.

Sincere thanks to Mina for being a strong advocate for neighborhoods and representing us well.

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