By Moses Leos III
An addition to an ordinance allowing for LED billboards in Kyle may mean a decrease in the amount of static billboards along Interstate 35 in the future.
The city approved amendments Tuesday to the city’s LED billboard ordinance.
Under the amended ordinance, the city changed its existing ratio requirement for any future LED billboards. In addition, the city removed a sunset clause that had been in place for the ordinance.
Kyle’s updated ratio requirement calls for four traditional billboard faces to be removed for each future LED billboard. Changing that ratio was part of an ongoing discussion involving city leaders and staff.
The original ordinance called for the removal of one static sign face for each future LED billboard face. But in July, the Kyle Planning and Zoning commission pushed forward a change calling for the ratio to spell out square footage, and not sign faces.
It led to concern on the dais over the size and scale of any potential LED billboards on the horizon.
Mayor Todd Webster said the move was to keep the size of billboards consistent. The concern was that the square footage requirement could mean an influx of smaller LED billboards.
“In a hypothetical case, you could have lots of little signs,” he said. “You could shrink the overall size of the billboard.”
Currently, two LED billboards are in place within the city limits. Kyle building official Mario Perez said there has been discussion of a third LED billboard. He said that sign would be located along northbound IH-35 near the Hays CISD administration building.
Those two billboards make up the city’s 24 existing billboards along the IH-35 corridor. Perez said the city is “maxed out” and cannot build any more billboards within the city.
State law requires at least a 3,000-foot buffer between billboards along the interstate.
But the addition of a fourth billboard may not happen any time soon. Perez said the current LED billboard ordinance only allows for three to be constructed. The city’s existing sign ordinance prohibits LED billboards.
According to Webster, any prospective advertising companies wishing for a billboard would have to come before council. He said they would be required to show proof they meet the city’s requirements, along with ensuring their sign isn’t close to residences.
According to Perez, the minimum distance an LED billboard can be from any lot located in a residential district is 300 feet. In addition, LED signs can only change faces once every eight seconds.
For City Manager Scott Sellers, the move will allow the city to preserve advertising on the LED billboards. Through an agreement with owners of the current billboards, Media Choice and Lamar, the city is allowed to have a free advertisement every six rotations.
He said this additional benefit would help clear the city’s skyline of billboards.
Sellers also said that “history speaks well for the present and future” of the city’s electronic billboards when it comes to the topic of distractions, despite two studies presented to council that claimed LED billboards were a distraction.
Webster said there wasn’t “anything that was absolutely conclusive” in the studies that indicated they resulted in accidents.
According to Sellers, Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett didn’t believe any accidents were a direct result of distraction by billboards.
“We have at least 12 months of data that shows no accidents being caused by electronic billboards,” Sellers said.