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Commissioners to review limitations for billboards

November 10, 2004|by TARA REILLY

The Washington County Commissioners are expected to decide next week whether to limit the number of billboards erected in the county and to restrict their size, height and other characteristics.

County planning officials have proposed adopting a "cap and replace" policy, which would prohibit a new billboard from going up unless another one was removed.

The policy would be part of the county's zoning ordinance.

"If I were an existing sign owner, I would probably be jumping for joy, because this policy creates a monopoly for me in Washington County," County Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell said during Tuesday's commissioners meeting.

Planning officials have also proposed other billboard limitations, including restrictions on size, height and location.

Commissioner John C. Munson said he thought the proposed limitations would hurt business and possibly are unconstitutional.

He said the commissioners should think long and hard before adopting such a proposal.

"We're meddling in people's affairs," Munson said. "We're meddling in jobs, and we shouldn't do that."

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In a letter to the commissioners, Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce board Chairman Edward H. Lough said the group applauded the county's review of its billboard regulations.

But he wrote that the Chamber was concerned about the proposals' effects on existing signs.

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