Owner of controversial Geist billboard sues city

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The company forced to remove a billboard it erected in the Geist area is now suing the city of Indianapolis for the loss of the controversial sign that many neighbors strongly opposed.

Indianapolis-based Geft Outdoor LLC filed the lawsuit Thursday in Marion Superior Court, naming the city and its Department of Code Enforcement, Department of Metropolitan Development and Board of Zoning Appeals.

The suit seeks damages that Geft owner Jeff Lee estimates at $750,000 for lost ownership of the sign, as well as others totaling about $200,000.

Lee said that he was forced to terminate the 20-year-lease agreement he had with landowner Connecticut-based Hide Realty for the sign that stood at the intersection of 79th Street and Fall Creek Road.

“To have your property rights taken away just because somebody doesn’t like it, it’s just a frightening precedence for anyone who owns land or does business in Marion County,” Lee told IBJ.

The 40-foot-tall sign went up in January and had space for three rotating messages that faced 79th Street and Fall Creek Road and one message that faced westbound 79th Street.

Geist residents quickly took issue with the sign and asked the city to revoke its permit, arguing that the billboard was erected too close to a stoplight and distracted drivers approaching the intersection. A zoning board in May voted 4-0 in favor of the request even though the sign conformed to zoning guidelines for the property.

Geft is suing the city for inverse condemnation, or when a government entity takes property without paying compensation.

An official in the city’s legal department did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment on the suit.


  • Interesting!
    So glad I was not the only one who thought the billboard was unsightly! It looked terribly out of place and was indeed distracting. Good riddance!
  • Give Me a Break
    A few things. The Don't Drive Naked, they received hundreds of calls about a how inappropriate their sign was in a residential area, and the owner loved it. Next, if Mr. Lee thought he could win the appeal regarding revoking the approval, he would have tried. Now he is suing he city to reap the benefit, pitiful. In addition to this he never bothered showing up to the appeal hearing in the 1st place allowing his lawyer to give a sad excuse he did not know when it was. Regarding CVS, I heard they have already filed suit against the land owner regarding this. I am very pleased this billboard is gone. I hope never to see one in this area again. Driving down Fall Creek and 79th is now a peaceful drive not having to worry about what kind of crap advertisement will show up on this board.
  • BS Mr Lee
    The article doesn't state that the land owner terminated Mr Lee's contract because CVS threatened to sue the land owner AND pull break their lease because their lease stated that NOTHING else would be built on that property. It's just convenient that the permit was appealed. It was coming down anyway and Mr Lee wants compensation at the tax payers expense. Shame on him.
    He was granted approval PENDING APPEAL. If Mr Lee would have waited just 30 more days to put up the sign the appeal period would of have expired.
  • Jeff Lee Tried Pulling a Fast One and Got Bounced.
    Jeff was real proud of himself when he got this whole billboard approved on the sly. Patted himself on the back he did. He didn't think anyone could do anything about it. He was wrong. May his suit against the city fail miserably and may he have to pay the Indianapolis court costs for this more than frivolous lawsuit.
    • Lost of Revenue
      Jeff Lee built an expensive Outdoor Advertising Sign in commercial area of Marion County.... in fact many other Outdoor Advertising companies for years had attempted to build in this area Jeff Lee was successful. Because there are very few signs built in this area... good advertisers were lining up for future contracts.. in fact the last advertiser on the board..."Don't Drive Naked" was reaping the benefits of the attention being drawn to this sign by attracting new customers... wrapping vehicles. Of ourse,notruth to the statement that Jeff Lee was having the City bail him out. This is clearly a situation whereby his property was taken without providing "Just Compensation". Violation of 5th Amendment Rights.
    • CK
      I'm betting the $25K daily fine was a factor in his taking the sign down promptly.
    • Trey1
      I believe that's referred to as driving customers away from a properly operating business, an act to which the county is now a party. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tortious_interference
    • Not much lost revenue
      By Mr. Lee's own admission, he basically ran pro-bono ads on the billboard. Paying advertisers didn't want ads on a controversial, ugly billboard that turned off customers. At least one of Mr. Lee's free advertisers dropped out early because they found that Mr. Lee's advertising was having negative impact. So Mr. Lee is disingenous to say the city now owes him for lost revenue. Mr. Lee quickly realized his monstrosity had a dim future and is trying to get the city to bail him out. And that's why the billboard came down so quickly.
    • Billboard blight
      The wrong is done with Marion counties lax/sad sign controls. Change the laws to protect people from sign blight. Travel a few miles north to Hamilton County to see sign control to see quality of life.
    • Facebook
      You should follow his Facebook page called "Million Dollar Billboard"
    • PAY HIM
      He paid for and went through the zoning approval process...pay the man!!
    • Why remove it?
      I don't understand why Geft removed it. Why not sue when the decision was made to try to reverse it?
    • Go get 'em
      It's refreshing to see an individual stand up for their rights, especially when it so wrongfully effects their business. It's time city officials wake up and realize they have to play by the rules as well.

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