Planning Commission seeks sign moratorium

April 20, 2004|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Fearing more billboards will spring up in Washington County, the Planning Commission has asked the County Commissioners to consider a ban on the signs until regulations on where they are allowed are updated.

The Planning Commission made the decision after an advertising company proposed erecting a billboard on the east side of Sharpsburg Pike, south of Conservit Inc. near Hagerstown.

The Planning Commission denied the site plan at a meeting earlier this month.

County Commissioner James F. Kercheval said the Planning Commission didn't think that area was an appropriate location for a billboard, even though county regulations allow billboards to be built there.


He said the proposed location was outside the Urban Growth Area (UGA) and there are no other billboards in that area. The UGA is a designated area where growth is encouraged.

Kercheval told the commissioners last week that he thinks the Planning Commission's decision may be appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

"Legally, it's a permitted use. I don't think that one can be stopped," Kercheval said.

A moratorium on billboards would give the county time to review the zoning districts where the signs are allowed and recommend changes, he said.

Kercheval said he thinks the Planning Commission will receive applications for billboards as more commercial development moves into the county.

Over the last several months, the Planning Commission has had three or four applications for billboards, Kercheval said. He said there were none during his first seven months on the commission.

Several months ago, the Planning Commission approved a plan for two billboards on Dual Highway, just outside of Hagerstown in the UGA.

"Obviously, they're coming in," he said.

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