Councilman Butt Pushes to Remove PEM LED Billboard

blogimage.jpgRichmond City Council member Tom Butt announced Monday that he has placed a resolution on the Council’s April 1st meeting agenda seeking the revocation of the permit that allowed erection and operation of the Pacific East Mall LED billboard.

Mr. Butt made the substantive language of his proposed resolution public by way of his e-forum email newsletter, which he sends out to his subscribers multiple times each week.  Since March 10th, Mr. Butt published four articles on his e-forum – not including Monday’s posting in which he set forth the language of his resolution.  Mr. Butt’s emails have included informal polls of his readers regarding the LED billboard revocation matter and he says it has been a landslide in favor of removing the board.

Monday’s email claims that the resolution that Mr. Butt put on the Council agenda is more than just a product of the outcry from the public against the LED sign.  Rather, as put forth in the text of his proposed resolution, the sign may have been illegal under both the signage ordinance that was in place in Richmond at the time the permit was issued and under the “Use and Display of Signs” Ordinance as currently written.

Among the violations that Mr. Butt alleges in his email forum and in the body of his Council resolution are that, among other violations, there was never a public hearing by the Design Review Organization, no notice was ever given to property owners within 300 feet or to the appropriate neighborhood council or business association as required by the Use and Display of Signs Ordinance at the time.  Due to the failures of the original approval process, Mr. Butt contends, the permit is revocable under current signage ordinances for fraudulent and misleading

As for the voices on the other side of the argument over the Pacific East Mall LED billboard permit – the ones that argue that the billboard is good for local business and that the removal of the sign is likely to be costly – Mr. Butt says that they are clinging to a “myth.”  He points to the fact that he watched the board as it cycled through the ads that it normally runs, and saw only one advertisement for a Richmond-based business (an ad for the Tamashii Ramen House in the Pacific East Mall) and it “did not seem to be in the standard rotation.”

Jim Rogers, Mr. Butt’s colleague on the Richmond City Council, sees the LED billboards differently from Mr. Butt.  In a response to one of Mr. Butt’s informal polls, Mr. Rogers suggested that LED billboards may actually reduce blight and clutter by cutting the number of individual boards throughout the city.

The only certainty, it seems, in the fight over the Pacific East Mall LED billboard is that it will be discussed at length in the Richmond City Council meeting coming up on April 1st.

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