Guest Editorial: Whose idea was this, anyway?

In the last week, I was surprised to see a 3-sided, electronic billboard erected at the corner of US Hwy. 321 By-Pass and Moultrie Street at the busiest intersection in Winnsboro.  Although the sign is on county property, it is within the city limits and should require their approval.

After checking to see how this could have happened, it appears the person in Town Hall responsible for receiving applications for variances to city codes (we have one for billboards) did not confer with anyone before signing off on the application for such a controversial project.  The Town Manager, nor the Zoning Board or the Town Council knew anything about the billboard or the location.

Brakefield

Additionally, it seems the original request was for three billboards, one in Jenkinsville, one in Ridgeway and one in Winnsboro.  Billboard installation in Jenkinsville and Ridgeway could not generate high enough revenues to justify the investment.  So ultimately, the decision to install a billboard is based on commercial consideration and not for the benefit of the community.

It is my understanding, the county is to receive a percentage of time for public service announcements.  It is unclear how much time and at what time of day this 24 hour/7 day a week flashing billboard will be allocated to the county for announcements.  Will the benefit of a few announcements versus the pollution of additional billboards (3 in one location) and potential increase in traffic accidents be worth this decision?

Most communities around the state and country are trying to eliminate billboards and their visual pollution, especially within city limits.  Instead of moving forward, we appear to be moving backward.  Why does a town with only 4 stoplights on its main street need a giant 3-sided flashing billboard within the city limits? Why was this not given the proper consideration and approval?

Publisher’s Note: The county did not purchase the sign, but leased the site where the sign sits to Grace Outdoors at no cost in exchange for the company erecting the sign and operating it for 15 years.

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