Batavia gives billboard idea a 'maybe'

Updated 7/3/2013 5:15 PM

Batavia aldermen said Tuesday night they are interested in learning more about allowing billboards in industrial areas since an advertising company wants to put one up on city property on Kirk Road north of Douglas Road.

Doing so would require changing the city's zoning law, which prohibits such signs.

The city's community development director, Scott Buening, is against allowing billboards.

"We don't think we should be opening what we potentially think is a Pandora's box," Buening said, and noted the city has been trying to "beautify" the Kirk corridor.

So is Alderman Steve Vasilion. "To me the amount of money we would be generating off it wouldn't offset what I personally consider to be a blight," he said.

Lamar Advertising has proposed a 15-year lease, starting with an annual rent of $25,000 the first five years. In total, the city would receive $450,000. It would be on the site of the eastern water tower.

Other aldermen said they wanted to learn more and speak to their constituents about the idea.

Alderman Lisa Clark cautioned signs would not necessarily be restricted to Kirk; the city has industrial districts on South Route 25, on Raddant Road, and in other parts of the city, she said.

But Alderman Susan Stark noted there is a billboard near the Fifth Third Bank Ballpark farther north, near Geneva, that doesn't offend her sensibilities. And since the LED board being proposed could intersperse civic announcements with the advertisements, it could drive traffic to downtown Batavia.

"It's not like it (the water tower site) is some prime piece of real estate, and $25,000 is a lot of money," Stark said. And appearances shouldn't be an issue like with old billboards that had paper signs that peeled, she said.

Aldermen directed Buening to get more information about legal issues such as restricting the signs to a certain zoning district, restricting distance between signs, and what would happen to the sign if an advertising company decided not to renew its lease. Alderman Alan Wolff also wanted to know how much the company pays for leasing private land vs. public land.

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