STARK COUNTY, OH (March 7) – In a victory for maintenance of nonconforming billboards, a court in Ohio overruled a locality that had issued a stop-work order.
Court of Common Pleas Judge Chryssa N. Hartnett reversed the City of Alliance Board of Zoning Appeals and immediately rescinded the stop-work order.
“The Board’s act of implicitly reading into the ordinance terms and limitations not contained therein was improper,” said the judge is a clearly worded 13-page decision.
After work began, a city zoning inspector issued a letter (June 29, 2016) demanding that Lamar cease work and told Lamar to remove the billboards completely. However, the court said the city’s actions were arbitrary.
“Because the preponderance of the evidence established that Lamar’s work on the billboards was replacement of the sign faces, the ordinance requires a finding that such work constitutes ‘normal maintenance’ which was expressly permitted under the ordinance and which did not alter or terminate the billboards’ status as legal nonconforming signs,” the judge said.
Lamar was represented by Guy Taft, Steve Schilling, and Chris Houston of Strauss Troy of Cincinnati and Jeffrey Jakmides of Alliance, OH. A supporting affidavit was submitted by Myron Laible of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA).