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County sets new standards for billboards

St. Charles County now has new standards for billboards that one county councilman says cleans up old language and protects areas from new billboards while another councilman says has him “leery.”

The council voted 5-1 at their Dec. 15 meeting to approve amending its development ordinance concerning “off-premise” signs. Councilman Joe Cronin (District 1) cast the lone no vote and Councilman John White (District 7) was absent.

The amended ordinance limits signs in the unincorporated part of the county along interstates 64 and 70 and Hwy. 61, along Hwy. 94 from Hwy. B to I-64, along I-364 except between Mid-Rivers Mall Drive and I-64, and along I-370. Billboards no larger than 64 square feet can be erected along state routes in the county.

The ordinance also limits billboards in general commercial, light industrial and heavy industrial zoning areas; sets a 45-foot high maximum height requirement and prohibits sign installation within 2,000 feet of an existing sign. The ordinance also regulates electronic billboards.

Councilman Mike Elam (District 3) said the bill cleans up old language in the county’s ordinance on rural highways and prohibits billboards along Hwy. 79 and along the southern portion of Hwy. 94. The bill also prohibits billboards along I-364 between Cottleville and Hwy. K.

Elam said the county’s regulations may only allow two to three more billboards to be erected. The old regulations may have allowed more.

The result is a bill that addresses many of the concerns Cronin and other councilmen had about changes in billboard regulations, particularly limiting their number along Hwy. 79 and in the wine-growing areas along Hwy. 94 in the western part of the county.

“It’s a nice compromise,” Elam said.

Cronin, however, questioned the need for the changes, asking if the new bill will result in more billboards for the county.

Changes to the county’s development ordinances often come from the staff, he said.

“A lot of information in this came from the private sector, and that makes me leery of this bill,” Cronin said.

The ordinance states that billboards cannot be erected within 500 feet of a residence or within 50 feet of a building. Along with a maximum height for billboards, the area for a sign cannot exceed 672 square feet.

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