Michael McDonald, St. Joseph
I respect the fact Ms. Ebel does not like billboards, however the limited remaining five billboards within the city limits provide an important function for local St. Joseph businesses. Due to easements and set-back requirements the area along Highway 75 in St. Joseph will never become “another Division Street” as she indicated.
The decrease of home values that were cited in the editorial appear to be unrealistic. The $31,000 decrease in value of homes within 500 feet of a billboard might be accurate but the reason is more likely due to the fact the home is located close to a busy street or commercial area rather than just being close to a sign. I also don’t think the county assessor or a real estate agent would agree my home is worth $5,000 less just because there are five billboards in town.
MN state statutes (462.357 Subd. 3) states any establishment or amendment to a Zoning Ordinance MUST have a public hearing before implementation. Yet the city placed an up to one-year moratorium Zoning Ordinance on any new illuminated sign last month with no such opportunity for public input. They side-stepped the public input by citing a provision of Minnesota law dealing with Comprehensive Plans (note: Comp Plans deal with broad visions of the city and not details such as illuminated signs). I agree with Ebel the public should be heard, but disagree with her statement the billboard company representatives “are at every meeting.” The only time I have seen them at a meeting were a couple of times when the specific billboard items were on the agenda.
Tom Klecker, St. Joseph
This is in response to a letter composed by Nancy Ebel entitled: “Electronic billboards – maintenance or madness?” printed in the Nov. 29, 2013 Newsleader.
I concur with Ebel’s basic premise as to the potentially adverse financial consequences of the electronic billboards, and also how they compromise the aesthetics of the community. I would however wish to add another concern – namely that billboards by their very nature are inherently and purposefully intended to distract one’s attention.
Approximately a month ago, the St. Cloud Times ran an article about all the distractions within a moving vehicle. As I recall there was the radio, phones, twittering and more. No mention was made as to distractions outside the vehicle. The specific intent as to the manufacture, purchase and utilization of the aforementioned within the vehicle were primarily provided for other purposes. Whereas there is evidence of irresponsible use of these devices while operating a vehicle, they were not specifically created as a distraction per se.
Billboards on the other hand were created for the express purpose of creating a distraction. Anyone familiar with the basic principles of perceptual psychology know full well what is operating here. Billboards, not unlike other forms of advertising, are created for the expressed purpose of distracting one’s attention away from whatever he or she would otherwise be attending to, such as operating a vehicle.
I suspect some measure of hypocrisy on the part of those that lecture us on how we need to minimize distractions while operating a vehicle but fail to mention one of the major distractions, namely electronic billboards.
Relative to the remarks there is essentially “…no difference between these electronic distractions and their traditional counterparts,” I simply say, “Yeah, you betcha.”
The initial costs and subsequent maintenance of electronic signs is significantly greater than traditional billboards. I suspect these business decisions to incur increased costs for advertising via electronic billboards were made in anticipation of a greater return on the investment made in these electronic signs. Why else would a person in advertising make such a decision? The reader is encouraged to go online and check out arguments against electronic billboards. Currently there are cases pending in Los Angeles (assembly bill 109) that would basically prohibit digital billboards from being built. Other cities are also debating the issue of electronic billboards.