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Public speaks out in favor of billboard moratorium

May 26, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

A proposed 90-day ban on billboards in Washington County was supported by all 11 people who testified before the County Commissioners on Tuesday.

The commissioners held the public hearing at their regular meeting.

The moratorium would restrict the large roadside signs while the Planning Department drafts proposals to limit the size and location of future billboards.

The Planning Commission recommended the billboard moratorium last month.

Planning Commission member George Anikis, who said he was testifying as a resident at the hearing, said the push for the moratorium came after a company proposed a billboard for the east side of Sharpsburg Pike near Conservit Inc., south of Hagerstown.

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Residents opposed to the billboard have said Sharpsburg Pike is the "gateway" to Antietam National Battlefield.

Jim Laird, president of Citizens for the Protection of Washington County, called the county's scenery "national treasures" that should be protected.

"CPWC continues to believe that a billboard of any size is an unsightly and unnecessary eyesore on any highway," Laird said.

Doug Wright, president of Advertising Inc., said the company has 105 billboards in Washington County - 55 inside county limits and 50 in Hagerstown.

He said the company, which was started in 1929, pays higher wages than others moving into the county and that it would like to stay in business and grow.

However, he said he didn't oppose a moratorium while new billboard rules are drafted. He said he understood that all businesses should be regulated.

County laws allow billboards of up to 1,000 square feet, nearly twice the size of some along Dual Highway in Hagerstown.

"I don't think it adds anything to our county or our highways to have these billboards showing," resident Barbara Hovermill said.

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