DL Council to decide on new billboard sizes

More discussion was held last week on the Detroit Lakes billboard issue, with the Community Development Committee eventually deciding to go back to the original recommendations of the sign committee.

More discussion was held last week on the Detroit Lakes billboard issue, with the Community Development Committee eventually deciding to go back to the original recommendations of the sign committee.

After this special community development committee meeting, the issue could be discussed at the regular CDC meeting Thursday and then will be on the city council agenda for the April 8 vote.

The recommendations are billboards are to be 300 square feet and be located 300 feet from a residential district, 500 feet from churches, schools, parks or the library. NO billboards are allowed in the B-1 district, and the total surface area for signs on a lot is limited to two square feet per foot of lot frontage.

Before reverting back to the original recommendations though, CDC members and other aldermen discussed other options Wednesday afternoon.

Previously, 672-square-foot billboards had been allowed in certain areas of town, and some aldermen suggested allowing those signs but spacing them at least 1,000 feet apart.


Alderman Bruce Imholte made his own proposal to solve downtown businesses not having space along Highway 10 to advertise. He suggested the city construct two billboards (one facing east and one facing west) near downtown using money from the liquor store funds. Downtown businesses would then have the option to rent space on the billboards to advertise their business, rotating the businesses.

Costs for the downtown business would be affordable since the city would pay for the billboard.

He added that other aldermen using the excuse of downtown businesses not being able to afford billboards couldn't use that excuse anymore since this would focus on their businesses.

Harold Newman, of Newman Outdoor Advertising, said that wouldn't work, in his opinion, because the text would be too small if there were multiple advertisers on one sign.

"You could never read all that," he said. "It would be a traffic hazard."

He also said that if the city limits the size of billboards, it will affect costs for local business owners. For instance, a car dealership pays a "membership fee" of sorts for national advertising. In return, the dealership then gets the paper for the billboard for free.

But, alderman Jim Anderson pointed out, there are two standard sizes of billboards, so the car dealerships, or whatever business in question, could just get the smaller size from the national advertiser instead.

Newman said the billboards wouldn't be as affective if they were smaller.


At the suggestion of Alderman and CDC Chair Matt Brenk, the committee also discussed allowing the larger billboards from Roosevelt Avenue to Highland Drive because the space would be near the industrial park. He said people will need to view the signs across the railroad tracks and Highway 10, so the larger size might be appropriate.

City Administrator Bob Louiseau pointed out that Highway 10 is actually moving closer than it is now.

"It was hard to justify the size of the bigger signs," Cyndi Anderson said. Anderson serves on the planning commission and is on the sign committee as well. "We wanted to respect the business person and also relative to the aesthetics of town."

Sharon Josephson also pointed out that people are going to be confused without some consistency as to where they can or can't put certain sizes of signs.

After nearly an hour of discussion, Anderson said he had changed his mind on where he stands on the issue.

At first, he said, he was under the impression that businesses might be hurt and weren't fairly represented in the discussion.

Learning more, though, he said if the city continues to micromanage what other committees decide, it's going to be hard to find people to serve on the committees.

He said that he is supporting what the sign committee had first decided on.


Alderman Ron Zeman said he agreed with Anderson but is still worried about the business district not having any billboards.

At the April city council meeting, the council is expected to take action on the billboard proposal and authorize the sign committee to continue discussion on the motion sign issue.

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