Under the City of Madison's current ordinance, if a developer takes a billboard down to make way for a new building, the sign is not replaced. The aim is to slowly eliminate billboards from the city.
But some businesses -- prominently including Adams Outdoor Advertising -- think that's unfair.
Adams wants the city to amend its ordinance and allow existing billboards to be relocated. In materials sent to the city, the company has hinted it might be spoiling for a fight, saying that by doing so "lawsuits and condemnation costs can be avoided."
Three alders, Joe Clausius, Jed Sanborn and Thuy Pham-Remmele, are sponsoring the proposed change. The city's Urban Design Commission will hold a special public hearing on the matter Wednesday, Dec. 12, starting at 5 p.m.
Adams says current redevelopment projects at Union Corners on the east side and the Villager Mall on the south side, could mean the loss of some billboards.
Or the city's current ordinance could halt development altogether. Adams has warned that Lamar Outdoor Advertising has a "perpetual easement" on a sign on the 800 block of East Washington Avenue. "The sign could prevent development of the property unless it could be relocated."
Clausius says the proposed change won't increase the overall number of billboards in the city.
"I'll never support adding any more of them," he says. But "I don't have a problem with" letting companies keep their current signs.
He adds that the proposal requires builders to erect signs of better quality, such as so-called "monument signs" that are lower to the ground and often framed in stone.
"It's more tasteful," he says. "They are not the classic billboards up on stilts. Our days of the Route 66 billboard landscape are over."