An item on the Little Rock Board of Directors’ agenda brings back memories of the numerous fights over the years to rid the city of billboards. The city beautiful forces generally lost, though the fights produced a measure of protection for so-called “scenic corridors” and a cap on the total number of billboards in the city.
About those “scenic corridors”: The Planning Commission has approved and the City Board will review a proposal next week to allow alteration to existing billboards on designated corridors: One behind a Shell Station at Kanis and Shackleford Roads and three along Interstate 630 (the Mills Freeway) between University Avenue and Children’s Hospital. The alterations would mean conversion to “digital” billboards, but the sizes couldn’t be made larger than they now are.
The billboard ordinance was meant to prevent alterations to billboards grandfathered on scenic corridors. Here, the city is asked to allow alteration of these billboards (in profitable high-traffic locations) in return for a tradeoff — removal of billboards from other locations in the city. As many as 13 could be removed and all removals would reduce the 198-billboard cap in the existing ordinance. The proposal specifies that alterations to a billboard on I-630 must be accompanied by a removal of a billboard on Highway 10. Conversion of the Kanis billboard would require removal of 10 billboards in unspecified locations.
You can find minutes of the Planning Commission review at the very end of this link.