Urbana approves billboard ordinance

By Charles Menchaca

The Urbana City Council approved an interim development ordinance Monday night to impose a moratorium, or stopping, of issuing permits for billboards.

The ordinance prohibits the city from issuing permits for outdoor advertising sign structures, or billboards, for the next year.

City planner Libby Tyler said the moratorium is a response to various complaints and concerns from businesses, city staff, and the council itself.

During the moratorium, various amendments to the zoning ordinance will be considered. These include spacing limits, height requirements and permit procedures for billboards. The Plan Commission also recommended a review of the maximum permitted sign face area.

Alderman Milton Otto proposed an amendment to reduce the future impact of billboards on the downtown area. All other present council members supported the amendment.

“We find that billboards are hurting Urbana businesses,” said Alderwoman Esther Patt.

Alderwoman Ruth Wyman referenced the termination earlier this year of the settlement agreement between Champaign-Urbana and the C&U; Poster Company. The agreement did not allow for the cities to place restrictions on billboards.

“I think it’s a prime opportunity to properly regulate billboards so they don’t intrude on Urbana residents and local businesses,” Wyman said.

Otto said the city should also consider taxing the billboards to deter businesses from trying to advertise close to downtown.

In other news, Paul Kotheimer, 703 E. Illinois St., performed a song criticizing the council during the public input portion of the meeting. After performing, Kotheimer said Urbana Mayor Tod Satterthwaite is carrying out a “smear campaign” and is threatening council members with blackmail. He called for Satterthwaite’s resignation and left.