By Stacey Tinsley, email@example.com
Benton-area residents will soon have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the placement of billboards and cell phone towers in their area.
During the Bossier Parish Police Jury’s meeting on Wednesday Nov. 21, Police Jury officials scheduled a public meeting for December 19 to consider and adopt an ordinance that would put regulations on billboards and cell towers in the Benton area.
Bossier Parish Police Jury President Glenn Benton is eager to hear what the public has to say and believes there should limitations on billboard placement.
“This public hearing gives the public the right to come in and voice their opinion on the matter. And I am interested in hearing what they have to say,” Benton said. “I think we need to limit where they can put the billboards now. At this time their is no limitations, but I really think we will end up having some limitations on it.”
Currently, the Benton area doesn’t have any regulations regarding how many off-premise signs, commonly called billboards, can be beside each other, how many can be put in a row, or how close they can be to a home. The only regulation is that it must be in a commercially-zoned district.
Police Jurors also voted and approved to schedule a public hearing regarding regulations on cell phone towers. It will be held on the same day as the ordinance concerning billboards.
Benton noted that with current technology, cell phone towers are necessary, but the placement of the towers is very important to homeowners regarding their property value.
“You have to have cell phone towers for our advanced technology that we have. But I do think there is a place for them,” he said.
“You don’t want to lower anyone’s property value. Someone might make $700 dollars per month for allowing a cell phone tower on their property, but that may lower the property value to the people living across the street. Your home is your largest investment,” Benton added.
Sam Marsiglia, director of the Bossier City-Parish Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC), first addressed police jurors on issues with applications for billboards and cell phone towers at the Jury’s regular meeting in early May.
Marsiglia said at the time that the increase in permits for off-premise signs and cell towers in the Benton MPC area is of some concern as there is no ordinance regulating the growth of those.
“Right now there are no regulations as to how many you can have beside each other, how many you can have in a row, or proximity to a house. The only regulations are is they have to go in commercial district,” Marsiglia said.
Marsiglia noted that LED technology makes for bright signs that could create issues when placed next to a home.
Carlotta Askew-Brown, assistant director of the MPC, told the jury that she has received several public information requests for cell phone towers, which gives the indication they are “about to proliferate.”
“The issue is that we have the carrier agree to co-locate other carriers on the same tower so we don’t have proliferation of towers (with one carrier for each tower),” she said. “They are tall. These are in the 200-300 foot range. We want to get some regulations on size and height so it adds protections to the area.”
It was at that time that Marsiglia asked the jury for their help in crafting an ordinance tailored for the area, based off Bossier City’s current ordinance.