Less is more Support grows for scenic routes bill

Local support is growing for proposed legislation that could limit billboards from springing up along scenic routes in the Hill Country.

House Bill 1303 is up for consideration within the Texas Legislature’s Transportation Committee, which would prevent billboards and other manmade structures from being placed along these roads.

More than 2,000 Hays County residents petitioned to State Rep. Erin Zwiener (D-Driftwood) to author the bill. The proposed legislation now has the support of Hays County Commissioners, as well as the Kyle City Council. The bill intends to preserve three roads in Hays County including RM 1826, RM 150 and RM 967.

Jeanine Christensen, a Hays County resident, authored the petition to Zwiener on Change.org, citing that the billboards and their unnatural lighting are a hindrance to the natural area and the ecosystem.

According to the petition, an increase in traffic on ranch-to-market roads has “triggered a proliferation of billboards on our roads.”

“Billboards are not mere eyesores: their lighting endangers human health and pollutes the night skies that are iconic to this region of Texas [sic],” according to the petition.

In 2017, former Dist. 45 State Rep. Jason Isaac introduced a similar bil, which was left in committee but never was taken to a vote. Supporters of the bill hope it makes it through this session. 

“Western Hays County is growing fast, and lots of folks visit and move here because of the beautiful scenery,” Zwiener stated in an email. “We must protect our tourism, our property values and our beautiful views.”

On March 26, the Kyle City Council joined Hays County in support of the bill with a resolution citing their support for the Texas Hill Country and its clear skies. Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell supported the resolution with the unanimous backing from the council. Kyle city leaders voted 6-0 for a resolution in support of HB 1303.

“We are the gateway to the Hill Country and folks that live out there come to Kyle,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s a very appropriate piece of legislation. I think that preserving our Hill Country viewshed is worthwhile.”

Citizens are working to prove their point beyond submitting their petition to Zwiener and lobbying to local representatives. Many residents say they refuse to use the businesses and services advertised on these billboards as long as they stay up, according to Zwiener’s office.

Currently, the Transportation Committee has not issued judgement on the bill at this time.

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