• Beckman Flats Billboard Saga Continues

    If you are driving from Bozeman Montana through the Gallatin Canyon you will most likely only see one billboard in the Beckman Flats area.  That billboard belongs to Saunders Outdoor Advertising and they have been in a dispute over that board with Gallatin County since 2009.  The Lone Peak Lookout updated the story last week as litigation between the Saunders and Gallatin County continues to drag on after nearly 10 years.

    Saunders erected the 12-by-30-foot billboard in the canyon the summer of 2008. Installation of the sign sparked canyon neighbors to band together and form the North Gallatin Canyon Zoning District.  The district subsequently adopted an ordinance spelling out sign requirements.  The billboard, was approved and installed before the ordinance was put in force. The District says the billboard was non-conforming because of its size and also, regulations did not allow the lighting of non-conforming signs. The rules spell out how signs must be brought into conformity, or if not, removed within 10 years from the adoption of the zoning regulation. That meant that the billboard would need to be taken down by Dec. 16, 2019.

    In 2010 county officials considered tapping into the county’s share of available grant funds to pay Saunders Outdoor to remove the structure.   At that time Saunders Outdoor was concerned they would not receive fair market price for the sign and said the federal money could be used for more worthy projects.

    In July 2014, the Saunders Outdoor was directed to remove the lighting for the billlboard. Saunders stated that the county had not only approved the billboard, but the lighting of it. The advertisement was first illuminated in April 2009. Saunders is suing Gallatin County and if litigation is ongoing in December 2019, when the sign is supposed to be taken down per zoning regulations, would the sign really be required to be removed?

    Insiders Take: Seems like if the County really wants the board removed, they should compensate Saunders “fairly” for the market value of the board.  Forcing the Company to take a legally permitted sign down basing it on an updated ordinance will not be a sure thing in court.



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