During the July 1 Mesquite City Council pre-meeting the council received a briefing regarding a possible amendment to the sign code to allow replacement of billboards in limited circumstances.
Jeff Armstrong, director of Planning and Development Services, said this issue came up because Clear Channel had a structure on I-635, just south of La Prada Drive that was taken by the Texas Department of Transportation as part of the I-635 LBJ East Project.
“They contacted our office and said, ‘We’d like relocate our billboard in Mesquite,’ and our current ordinance says that once the sign is gone, it’s gone, and it can’t be replaced,” Armstrong said.
He noted that council had briefly talked about this before and gave staff direction a few months ago to bring it back at a later date.
“The current ordinance does not permit the construction of any new billboards, and it hasn’t since about the '90s, maybe early 2000s,” he said.
Mesquite had 12 billboards before this one was removed within the city limits and two in the extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). All of them are nonconforming since the city no longer allows them.
“If they’re removed or destroyed, the ordinance is very clear: They cannot be replaced,” Armstrong said.
He said that staff had some suggested possible criteria if council wanted to go this route of allowing a replacement-type of program by ordinance, such as it would only be allowed to be replaced when the sign has been taken by a governmental action. If it meets this criteria, there are other criteria that includes being relocated on the same tract if possible. If not, the sign would need to be relocated on a freeway. It should be essentially the same size, with separation requirements from historic districts and public parks, and any relocation would be a non-residential zoning district.
Council directed staff to evaluate and determine the impact of the Highway Beautification Act and alternatives regarding replacement of billboards.