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Businesses, Kokomo reach compromise on billboards

June 22, 2014

Some of the 15 billboards that were destroyed by a tornado in November will be allowed to go back up under settlements between the city of Kokomo and the sign owners.

Plan Commission Director Greg Sheline told the Kokomo Tribune the city has reached settlements with JR Promotions and Perma Advertising allowing three billboards to be either repaired or replaced. Talks are continuing with a third company that lost 11 billboards in the Nov. 17 storm.

"We want to get the signs down, but we understand that's their business, as well," Sheline said.

The billboard owners had protested a new ordinance that requires the damaged signs to be removed, saying they would lose revenue. The ordinance prohibited off-premises signs and didn't allow for their repair.

The settlements allow JR Promotions to restore the base and frame of its old billboard on Indiana 931 in exchange for leaving another damaged one down. The company also will be allowed to upgrade another sign on Indiana 931 by Texas Roadhouse that was damaged by the tornado.

Perma Advertising, which owned two billboards that were destroyed, will be able to repair one of its displays on an auto dealership's lot but must leave the other down.

Sheline said the initial intent of ordering the billboards down in November was to reduce clutter along 931, but the city has been willing to work with business owners to come up with a compromise.

The ordinance passed in May included language that requires damaged advertising signs be removed. It gave sole discretion to the plan director to determine if the signs were up to code.

"Sometimes you've got to get people's attention," Sheline said. "Our intent was to work with them to get the ones that were eyesores down. In most cases, the business owners have been very understanding."

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