• Should a billboard hold up development?

    EKN development has asked approval to relocate this billboard in order to build an 8 story hotel.

    Should a billboard hold up development?  That’s the provocative headline of a Post Bulletin article.  Fairway has a legal two sided conforming billboard on the site pictured above in downtown Rochester, Minnesota.  EKN Development wants to add an 8 story building on the site and has approached Rochester to ask for approval to move the sign and incorporate it into the new building design.  The Rochester planning staff is opposing the billboard relocation.  Here’s the reasoning in their staff report which you’ll find on page 111 of the Planning Commission minutes.

    Placement of a new billboard on the site is not consistent with the DMC Design Guidelines and the LDM. DMC Design Guidelines include a statement in Section C.05 that specifically recommends against the placement of new billboards within the DMC boundary: “Signs should be scaled and oriented to the pedestrian, not as billboards.” The proposed billboard meets LDM requirements for dimensions and lighting, but does not meet the distance requirements from either a street intersection or a street/railroad intersection. Billboards must be located at least 100 feet from an intersection of two street rights-of-way and at least 200 feet from a street/railroad intersection. Additionally, billboards are only permitted as freestanding signs. Billboards are not permitted to be attached to a building. 

    The Planning commission will make a recommendation to the Rochester City Council which will vote on the matter on June 4.

    Insider’s take:  Should a billboard hold up development?  Yes, if there’s a valid billboard lease with no cancellation clause.  Insider guesses the developer will either have to get consent from the city to relocate the billboard or pay Fairway fair market value.  Property rights are property rights.  A valid lease gives Fairway the right to keep a billboard on the property until expiry.

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