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Western Herald – Around the Web: USA Today highlights controversy surrounding proposed LED billboards in Kalamazoo
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Around the Web: USA Today highlights controversy surrounding proposed LED billboards in Kalamazoo

Ted Yoakum
News Reporter

The recent controversy of the use of LED backlit billboards in Kalamazoo is only one of several such battles occurring nationwide, according to a new article by Larry Copeland with USA Today.

Western Herald File

According to the story, Kalamazoo is one of several communities who have pushed back against such advertising structures. Citizens in cities like Pittsburgh, Montgomery, Ill. and Knox County, Tenn. have resisted measures by private companies to convert existing billboards with backlit technology, which dramatically increase the visibility of the sign’s content.

The pushback in these communities come during a time when the development of these structures is booming. Copeland points out that, since 2010, the number of LED billboards has more than doubled, from 1,800 to 4,000.

Copeland spoke to a number of experts about effects electronic billboards have on the community, with one group labeling them “TV on a stick.” The reporter also spoke with Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, who called said the billboards would create a “Las Vegas effect” around his region.

“I’m very pro-business, but I believe in protecting the aesthetic of our community,” Briggs says. “I like Las Vegas, but that’s not what we want here in the cradle of Southern Appalachia.”

In Kalamazoo, the city commission recently approved a six-month moratorium on new billboards within the city limits, during their last meeting on Jan. 22. The measure was proposed by city officials, who plan on spending the period examining the effect LED billboards would have in the city, and determining the best locations for such structures throughout the city.

One such billboard already exists within city limits, located on WMU’s Parkview Campus. However, since the university is located on state-owened property, it is exempt from local zoning laws.

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