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nashvillwill

Billboard removal. Is it possible?

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Nashville is a beautiful city. It's a beautiful area. It's a shame that all of that natural beauty is hidden behind a sea of high rise billboards.

I haven't researched this topic much, so I don't know what the current ordinances are, or how Nashville compares to other cities in a billboard per square mile ratio. I just want to see them all come down.

So, I just want to know if you guys have any insight or ideas of how we can control this. If I were king, I would put an instant stop to new construction of billboards and, over time, create a program to remove most of the existing structures.

Am I the lone wolf on this subject, or do these disgusting structures offend anyone else?

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I will say this, when I first moved to California, the lack of billboards was one of the first things I noticed. And I've loved it ever since.

I was just looking at this subject. Apparently, the city of Houston, TX has a ordinance against new billboards, which is 20 years old. In those 20 years, Houston has managed to rid itself of 85% of its billboards.

I also learned a term for this. Visual pollution.

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I completely agree with you Nashvillwill.  Obviously, this isn't just a 'Nashville problem', but a national problem.  I'm obviously all for capitalism but it is a shame that so much of our landscape is relegated to being nothing more than a corporate advertisement. 

 

There are ordinances that can be put in place, for sure, some of which have been referenced here already.  Another one that I know of is in Maine where highway billboards are prohibited altogether, and have been since the fifties, I believe.  Maine is a gorgeous state, and this ordinace really helps to preserve that beauty.  Actually, the state of Maine has really done a phenomenal job in general at limiting the negative effects that an overabundance of commercialism can have on environments, both built and natural. 

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Just be wary that if you battle the powerful advertising industry don't expect to do so without pushback. There are lots of people making a killing off those billboards, its big business. But if Houston can do it - the town notorious for no zoning laws - I'm sure that Nashville and the entire state could.

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Billboard advertising and signage in particular has been something that the Nashville Metro Council has been looking at for quite some time.  There are several ordinances in place regarding billboard signage as well as regular commercial signage.  The Gallatin Road Specific Plan is one example of a zoning ordinance that limits new signs that are put up on Gallatin Road (no new billboard signs, monument vs building-mounted signs for stores, maximum sign square footage requirements, no internal illumination, etc) . 

 

On the other hand, the trick usually arises with existing signs and what constitutes the trigger for replacement of the sign.  This is especially true for billboard signs.  I think that where things are right now is that existing signs are grandfathered.  So that for the most part, an existing nonconforming sign that gets damaged (like in a storm) can be replaced with a similar nonconforming sign. 

 

One of the additional tricks about signs is that churches, schools, etc sometimes want to include internal illumination with scrolling messages about upcoming events and those are strictly prohibited in residential areas, which is exactly where most churches and schools are located.  So from time to time there are requests for exceptions from churches and schools that cause an uproar.  Whereas you can pretty much retrofit an existing billboard sign (that is right next to houses close to commercial corridors) into a LED sign or something egregious like that.  I even think that legislation recently passed that allowed sign owners to retrofit existing signs to have those three-fold things that rotate to change out the image.

 

The other thing that I'm sure will not surprise you is that sometimes businesses put up illegal signs without requesting permits.  And once they are up codes typically cannot make them take them down. 

 

If you are a Nashville resident, I urge you to keep raising your concerns about billboard signs to your district council representative or to any of the five At Large council members.  Megan Barry in particular has been sympathetic to the desire to reduce signage in Nashville.

Edited by bwithers1

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The urban freeway billboards don't bother me all that much. There are plenty of other unsightly things to look at as you drive through town.

 

What bothers me more is when you are travelling on a rural stretch of interstate, surrounded by beautiful farmland, rolling hills, trees, etc...and BOOM, you suddenly come across a mess of billboards, ruining the natural scenery. 

 

I realize that at a lot of these 'off' exits, businesses have to advertise so travelers are aware of their presence as they pass through. And to be honest, I'd much prefer a few ugly billboards to those massive 100' or so signs that can be seen from quite some distance.

 

 

As for Nashville billboards...like the above comment, I think I'm more concerned about the actual on-site signage than I am a highway billboard. Though I will add in that billboards on surface streets are equally repulsive. Lebanon Road near Hermitage is one place where I have noticed an abundant amount of road billboards.

 

I would at least support the removal of billboards from certain areas (i.e. within a certain proximity of residential areas on the interstate, and most of those along our pikes).

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I'm inbetween on the issue. I understand the plight of the business owner who just wants to advertise and get his product message out there, but Tennessee is certainly one of those places when you ride through can tell there little to no zoning for billboards. The skyscraper sized McDonalds or Gas station logos, the billboards are all around and it can be pretty tacky.

 

Here in New York State billboards are not banned, but they are tightly restricted. Same deal in Canada, you just don't see billboards in Ontario when you cross the border here. There's a few here and there, but its obviously restricted. New York and Canadian small businesses seem to do just fine without them, so I don't know if they are worth the eye sore or not.

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I'm inbetween on the issue. I understand the plight of the business owner who just wants to advertise and get his product message out there, but Tennessee is certainly one of those places when you ride through can tell there little to no zoning for billboards. The skyscraper sized McDonalds or Gas station logos, the billboards are all around and it can be pretty tacky.

 

Here in New York State billboards are not banned, but they are tightly restricted. Same deal in Canada, you just don't see billboards in Ontario when you cross the border here. There's a few here and there, but its obviously restricted. New York and Canadian small businesses seem to do just fine without them, so I don't know if they are worth the eye sore or not.

 

I'm definitely fine with more restrictions on size/location/and number.

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Picadilly Circus in London was a giant billboard like Times Square, although I think that London has limited those more since I was last there.

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A friend of mine used to call billboards, "polution on a stick" and that stuck for me.

 

One thing is that if a highway is designated as a scenic drive or byway, I dont think they can have bill boards there. Correct me if I am wrong. I think the new 840 in Williamson County has such a designation and I dont think there can be any there.

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I'm not sure what classifies as "billboard". Signs for individual businesses (McDonalds, gas stations, and the like) don't bother me nearly as much as the giant (what I traditionally think of as billboard) advertisement signs. While signs for individual businesses can become cluttered when there are too many of them, they tend to be small. Billboards are just plain large and 2-3 of them in a short stretch can be significant pollution.

There is one video board in particular (in the gulch near the Demonbreun exit) that is quite blinding at nighttime. It could have changed in recent years, but there doesn't appear to be a night time dimmer on it. When approaching it at night, it is quite dangerous to the drivers eye.

But having said that, I would be ok with video billboards (if fitted with appropriate nighttime dimmers) if that meant a reduction in the overall amount of signage.

Unfortunately, they just seem to be a way to squeeze another dollar out of a given space.

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Personally I think billboards in town are fine, and those from large companies advertising things like sprite can be very beautiful and enhance the urban landscape. In the country, not so much. And there's the problem that small businesses have this attraction to tacky ads and signs.

I really hate signage restrictions intensely. You can't legislate taste, but you sure can legislate dreariness. City streets need colorful signs to liven them up, businesses need their customers to see them, and announcing we re going to have signage restrictions is just an invitation to the tasteful and understated crowd to try to bully us into their boring little world.

Of course the LED signs are obviously way too bright.

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