West Carrollton OKs sign moratorium after Supreme Court ruling

West Carrollton Civic Center

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West Carrollton Civic Center

West Carrollton City Council last week approved a moratorium on advertising signs or billboards that are located off a business’ physical premises.

The move comes on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing a ban on such signs by the city of Austin, Texas.

West Carrollton wants to give city staff time to review how off-premise signs would impact the city, positively or negatively, according to Lori Denlinger, the city’s law director/prosecuting attorney.

Denlinger said the April Supreme Court decision, City of Austin, Texas v. Reagan National Advertising of Austin, LLC, “distinguishes between off-premise and on-premise signs, effectively permitting a city to prohibit off-premise signs.”

“American jurisdictions have regulated outdoor advertisements for well over a century,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in the majority ruling. “On-/off-premises distinctions, like the one at issue here, proliferated following the enactment of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965.”

West Carrollton City Council approved the ordinance during its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday. It’s a supplement to action city council took back in October, when it approved a moratorium on enforcement of non-commercial sign code violations to give council members time to review any recommendations for changes to the sign code by counsel while not infringing on the potential rights of the sign owner.

“I think that while we are already having our sign code under review, it’s a good time to determine whether or not the city wanted off-premise signs,” Denlinger told city council Tuesday. “Maybe you do and maybe you don’t, but I think we need more information.”

The moratorium gives council enough time to obtain that information before it makes a decision, she said.

“I think, like most cities, we very much value the First Amendment and we’re not about to trample on someone’s First Amendment rights. We just have to balance that with what’s best for the city and aesthetics ... and traffic safety and all that,” Denlinger said.

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