Wednesday, November 21, 2001

I-471 getting billboards

Newport development project displaced ads

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — The view from Interstate 471 is about to change.

        Billboards displaced by Newport development projects are being moved to spots along Interstate 471, marking the first time billboards have been allowed along the highway in Campbell County.

        In an agreement signed five weeks ago between the city and Lamar Outdoor Advertising, eight billboards are being replaced — clearing space near two development sites:

        • Along Third, Saratoga and Washington streets near Newport on the Levee.

        • Newport Promenade, the proposed mixed-use commercial and residential project Neyer Properties Inc. wants to build near Grand Avenue and Carothers Road.

        In return for moving the billboards from those locations, Lamar is allowed to install two elevated posts that will display four billboard advertisements next to the interstate.

        “It was basically a deal where the company gets four (billboard) faces in return for eight billboards that it agreed to give up,” said Fort Mitchell lawyer Kevin Murphy, who represents Louisiana-based Lamar.

        “It's a good deal,” Mr. Murphy said. “The city is pleased to be losing those (billboards) near its fabulous new developments, and Lamar is pleased to be getting some high-visibility signs.”

        The new billboards will be up “shortly,” Mr. Murphy said. Once that happens, the eight other billboards will come down.

        Mr. Murphy would not say how much the company will charge for the billboards, adding that companies can buy so many different combinations of advertisements based on location and duration that it is too difficult to assign a single price to any billboard.

        But he did say the locations are ideal because they are next to a high-traffic interstate highway.

        Poles for the four billboards are being erected on city-owned property near Newport High School, said Newport City Manager Phil Ciafardini.

        As part of the agreement, Newport received approvals to place the billboards along the interstate from state and federal highway officials.

        “From a city perspective, we were not looking to create new opportunities for the billboards,” Mr. Ciafardini said Tuesday. “But they are a legitimate business that has a right to be here. The city just can't run them off.”

        Mr. Ciafardini does expect to receive complaints about the billboards once they are installed, particularly since they are first along the five-mile stretch of I-471, which runs from Cincinnati to Highland Heights.

        “(Complaints) are part of the process of something like this,” Mr. Ciafardini said. “But the overall good of the community is being served.”

        But motorists won't likely be seeing billboards in the other cities along I-471.

        Officials in Bellevue, which is just east of Newport on the other side of I-471, successfully fought a state permit filed about a year ago by a company that wanted to install a billboard along the interstate.

        “We threatened lawsuits and everything else, and we won,” said City Administrator Don Martin. “Our zoning regulations do not permit off-premise signage, so we used that to fight it. “I think (billboards) are a blight on the community, nothing but eyesores,” Mr. Martin said.


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