By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Lamar Outdoor Advertising representatives offered a compromise on the city of Oxford’s sign ordinance that would drastically save several billboards while drastically reducing their numbers.
City officials, however, did not make any promises Tuesday evening regarding a possible settlement.
After Oxford tightened its sign ordinance in 2004, the city gave owners of non-conforming signs five years, then another two, to recoup their investments. Among the changes required was limiting billboards to industrial-zoned areas. Under the compromise, Lamar would replace 11 current structures representing more than two dozen sign faces with four or five double-sided electronic signs whose messages would change every eight seconds.
Rather than the stark steel structures that currently support most billboards, the new ones would be pillar-like “architect-designed facades that would blend better with Oxford’s design,” said a company representative.
Ward 3 Alderman Janice Antonow expressed concerns about how moving designs would affect driver attention and, by extension, traffic safety.
“They’re going to change every eight seconds [but] there’s no motion,” the Lamar representative said. “Everything we do is MDOT-regulated. … Typically, we try to put them close to red lights so people can look at them when they’re stopped.” The signs also would dim at night to avoid excess glare.
An extra incentive in Lamar’s offer is that the company would donate its unsold sign time/space to nonprofits, as it does in other markets.
Mayor George “Pat” Patterson reminded aldermen and Lamar representatives that whatever compromise might be reached between Lamar Outdoor and the city would have to be extended to other sign companies. He suggested Gray Tollison, an Oxford attorney representing Lamar, send a formal proposal in writing.