Dickinson Debates Digital Billboards - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Dickinson Debates Digital Billboards

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Digital billboards are popping up all across the country. But in Dickinson, there are still none.
It's kind of a polarizing issue. Dakota Outdoor Advertising wants to put digital billboards both in Dickinson city limits and in its extraterritorial zone. Some city officials say it could be a great update to the city, but some business owners are worried it might affect their sales.

For Western Dent owner Nevada Crimmins, having a location on Dickinson's busy East Villard Street is advertisement enough.

But last week he got a notice from the city that an ad company wants to put a digital billboard just a couple 100 feet from his business.

"My first reaction was I kind of basically wanted to stop it because I felt that it was going to block the view of my building and the signage on the building," he says.

Crimmins is one of the first people to speak up in the city's digital billboard debate.

You're taking into consideration, even if it don't block the signage on my building or the building, now people are looking at that sign and they're not looking at anything downtown for business," says Crimmins.

The Dickinson Planning and Zoning Commission originally told Dakota Outdoor Advertising that the city's sign ordinance doesn't allow new billboards.

"The sign code doesn't specifically state that billboards are prohibited, however it's inferred. Under the permitted signs, it does not list billboards or off-premise signs," says community development director Ed Courton.

But the company is now challenging that interpretation in the hopes of building the city's first digital billboard.

"The concern with digital billboards is the illumination, they're brighter, the potential of distracting motorists or local businesses nearby," says Courton.

But some city officials say these tech-savvy signs, like this one in Bismarck, aren't all bad.

"Some of the major benefits of digital signs is appearance for on thing, we've got antiquated billboards along our main thruways through Dickinson and so updating them would be a nice priority," says Dickinson City Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns.

And Oltmanns says it could help the city share important messages.

"I think that our emergency manager with a simple click of an email could update people on impending storms, road closures, accidents, and it could be a great community service," says Oltmanns.

There are 50 billboards in and around Dickinson, which city leaders say is a lot for a city this size.

Both Oltmanns and Courton agree that the city probably isn't looking to add billboards, and so if the digital ones do go up, they will most likely replace existing signs.

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