Local News

Fayetteville Flicks Digital Billboards Off for Now

Posted April 15, 2008 6:07 p.m. EDT
Updated April 15, 2008 6:33 p.m. EDT

— City officials have placed a two-month moratorium on digital billboards to study the impact of the electronic signs on surrounding neighborhoods and drivers.

The new billboards loom like giant flat-screen televisions over highways, using thousands of tiny lights instead of paper to advertise a product or service. The ads change every eight seconds.

Fayetteville officials have been trying to rid the city of old, unsightly billboards and allow companies to replace them with modern signs.

"There was never any mention about some of those (new) signs being digital," Mayor Tony Chavonne said. "We'd like to take a little time to understand digital billboards."

Louisiana-based Lamar Advertising placed a digital billboard along Raeford Road, one of about 720 it has erected in 120 markets nationwide. But the City Council last month denied the company's request to replace an old sign on Ramsey Street with a digital one, ruling that the billboard would be too close to a residential area and to another billboard.

Lamar has sued the city over the denial. The company has 11 pending applications for upgrading billboards around Fayetteville, but it's not clear if all would be digital.

After two months, the City Council will decide how to regulate digital billboards. Issues include the brightness of the lights on the signs and minimizing the distraction to drivers.

"You're coming through at night, (and) it lights up. It draws your attention," driver Jason Patterson said. "I think it's really cool. It's a great way to advertise now."