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Vote to ban new billboards in Orem not final, another vote scheduled for December

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Posted at 10:11 PM, Nov 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-13 00:11:15-05

OREM, Utah -- The city of Orem is considering a proposal that would ban any new billboards from going up in town and prohibit electronic signs from coming within 500 feet of the east I-15 corridor.

The council voted in favor of the plan 3-2 Tuesday night, but a majority of four was required. Because two council members were not present, the initiative failed.

"I thought it was a limit on free speech; It was a limit on private enterprise, private property,” Councilman Hans Andersen said.

Andersen voted against the plan, arguing the restrictions go too far by putting a cap on the boards.

"The city is proposing no new billboards,” Andersen said. “And I think that's wrong."

But Mayor Richard Brunst, one of the absent voters, said they will be bringing it back to the table next month.

While the city had been discussing their plans with billboard companies, like Reagan Outdoor Retailers and YESCO, he does not to expect to make any changes to the proposal.

"I don't see that as something we'd like to pursue,” Brunst said.

According to the Mayor, under a loophole in the state’s law, a billboard company could remove its ad from one side of the freeway, move it across the street, and then apply to lease its old space, again. The end result means more boards and lights, with no revenue coming to the city.

“We also have to take into account the residents that pay the taxes that live here, that are living right there next to, close to these signs and how that affects them,” Brunst said.

The city will take the issue up again on December 9, at which point the full, 7-member council will vote on it again.