Provo • The city’s attempt to put a moratorium on electronic billboards hit a speed bump Tuesday.
The Municipal Council, which was poised to enact the six-month restriction on new applications for electronic billboards, voted 5-1 to put it off for two weeks after Reagan Outdoor Advertising said it was not properly notified of the proposal.
"We think it is only reasonable to provide the industry with some notice," said Dewey Reagan, president and general manager of the billboard company.
Brian Jones, the council’s attorney, said he received a letter from Reagan’s attorney Tuesday afternoon reminding him that state law required sign companies to be notified in advance if the city was considering an ordinance changing sign regulations.
Reagan said someone called him about the ordinance Tuesday afternoon, but he said that was not a formal notification.
The ordinance would have banned applications to convert existing billboards to electronic billboards or build new electronic billboards in the city for six months while the city took a look at its sign rules.
The ordinance was put on the agenda Monday, and was rushed through the council’s work and study sessions in the hours before Tuesday’s meeting.
During the 2012 Legislature, lawmakers attempted to pass a bill that would have eliminated local authority to regulate billboards.
Provo joined other cities in successfully fighting the bill.
Mayor John R. Curtis said Reagan’s action Tuesday was a small example of what the cities went through during the debate on the billboard bill, with the industry making a full-court press against the cities.
"This puts us on notice for the battle that will be coming over the next six months," Curtis said.
"It was concerning that I have never met Mayor Curtis, and he set out to describe me as the enemy," Reagan said.
Councilman Sterling Beck questioned the rush to put the ordinance in place. Beck said it was violating the principle of transparency in government.
But Councilman Rick Healey said the ordinance provided transparency because the city would be spending the next six months publicly discussing sign regulations.
Gary McGinn, the city’s community development director, said the city’s sign ordinances are outdated, and a moratorium would allow the city time to put together new regulations without having to worry about sign owners trying to get new signs approved before the rules change.
McGinn said there are no pending applications at this time.
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