A citizen complaint has compelled Ward 3 Alderman David Little to seek a resolution to temporarily prohibit new billboards from popping up in Starkville.
Little told The Dispatch this morning he would place on Tuesday’s board meeting agenda a resolution to consider enacting a six-month moratorium on billboards while aldermen consider stronger permanent codes to regulate them. If the resolution passes, the board would hold a pair of public hearings before the moratorium would go into effect.
The moratorium would also temporarily prohibit changing existing billboards.
“I think this will have overwhelming support from the board,” Little said. “Billboards just end up being sky clutter in my opinion. I just feel like billboards are obsolete, and these days there are much better outlets for businesses to get their message out.”
Mississippi Land Bank Vice President and Starkville Branch Manager Bart Harris complained to Little and Ward 5 Alderman Scott Maynard after he saw a billboard going up near the bank’s Highway 12 location near the LaQuinta Inn in east Starkville.
An area dentist, Dr. John W. Starr, owns an adjacent business to the bank — Golden Triangle Peridontal Center — and purchased the billboard and legal permits to install it.
However, Harris told The Dispatch the billboard obstructs the view of the bank from the roadway. Moreover, he said he received no advance notice of its installation.
Harris declined to comment further when reached this morning, other than to say he “absolutely” supports a billboard moratorium.
So does Maynard, in whose ward both the land bank and periodontal facility sit.
“Aesthetically, I’ve never been a big fan of billboards in the city limits,” he said.
The Dispatch could not reach Starr for comment by press time.
Now, landowners or appropriately authorized parties can place billboards in C-2 (intermediate commercial) or manufacturing zones in the city limits, Community Development Director Buddy Sanders said. All they need are permits from his department and the Mississippi Department of Transportation. No board approval is necessary.
Permit costs vary according to the billboard’s value, Sanders added. In Starr’s case, he paid the city $789 to erect his $155,000 board on Highway 12, which translates to $569 for the first $100,000 and $4 per every additional thousand dollars.
Size restraints vary, too, Sanders said, according to frontage road availability. The largest board allowed in Starkville is 288 square feet, and one cannot be placed closer than 2,640 feet (a half-mile) from another outdoor advertising display.
Little: ‘I just don’t like them’
Aldermen will consider approving its long developing comprehensive plan on Tuesday. From there, both Little and Maynard said the city will develop new building codes in line with the comprehensive plan.
Little hopes to include tougher codes for billboard placement that would see attrition eventually eliminate their existence in Starkville.
“I’d rather ban them from going up altogether,” he said. “The ones we already have here can go for that matter. …It’s a personal preference. I just don’t like them.
“I really would just like to do whatever was legally possible to place guidelines on (billboards) that are so stringent, it becomes cost-prohibitive to install one.”
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.