Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness didn’t set parameters or a deadline when he created the Digital Message Board Task Force earlier this year, but according to city staff, the members have reached a recommendation.
The task force, which was formed to study the topic of electric outdoor advertising, is recommending the city doesn’t change its current ordinance, according to Rick Brandau, assistant director of community development and zoning administrator.
The existing regulations prohibit any sign or advertisement “with visible moving parts or with flashing, animated or intermittent illumination,” with the exception of signs displaying the time, date or weather conditions.
However, the city has approved variances for a handful of electronic signs, including one for Culver’s off Southeastern Parkway on Olio Road.
If the city council follows the recommendation and doesn’t change the ordinance, anyone seeking to add a digital message board sign will have to receive approval from the council and go through the same process as a rezone to create a digital message board overlay on the property.
Each application would be evaluated individually and have its own standards to follow, Brandau said.
The task force, which includes three city council members, a plan commission member, a board of zoning appeals member, and a representative from the chamber of commerce, is also expected to provide a list of items to consider when determining the appropriateness of theasite for an electronic sign and a list of suggested standards for the signs. But those have not been finalized.
Digital billboards started popping up throughout the country after 2007 when the Federal Highway Administration clarified that states could allow the ads.
Brandau said he’s received inquiries about the city’s regulations on animated signs from existing businesses and billboard companies.
The topic has strong advocates on each side—industry representatives push for digital advertisements on the sides of highways because they are more attention grabbing than print billboards. And Interstate 69, which runs through Fishers, could be a prime spot for the ads.
Digital ads can also display warnings or notices to motorists, which can be appealing to public agencies.
But opponents argue the ads can be distracting. They are worried about driver safety, increasing vehicle collisions and sign pollution in general.