Photo: Scott Rogers, Gainsville Times

“Gainesville officials have reached a compromise to allow digital billboards within the city limits after nearly three years of negotiations and threats of a lawsuit.

Close to 70 billboards are located in Gainesville, with the vast majority owned by Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

Fairway owns an additional 32 billboards across Hall County, where digital billboards are allowed…

Limits on brightness, transition time between advertisements and the distance between billboards were major considerations for city officials.

City officials also wanted to reduce the number of billboards altogether…

Fairway had previously submitted 15 applications for permits to convert existing “static” billboards into digital displays, all of which were denied.

Fairway then threatened to file a lawsuit.

‘We had been negotiating for quite some time,’ City Manager Bryan Lackey said. ‘I thought things were progressing well. Before they dropped the threat of litigation, they didn’t want any restrictions on timing.’

City officials were willing to give Fairway several years to make the conversions…

The agreement, which City Council approved this week, requires that Fairway must remove two existing billboards for every digital billboard it converts within the first two years.

That means, according to the terms obtained by The Times, that Fairway will remove 14 “static” billboards and convert another seven to digital displays.

After the second year, Fairway has an indefinite amount of time to remove 18 existing billboards and convert just five.

The digital displays cannot exceed 300 square feet in size and their height is limited to 35 feet; must use brick or stone around base poles to a height of 10 feet to improve aesthetic; and must be placed on or within 50 feet of an existing spot.

Moreover, displays must last at least 10 seconds and the transition between messages can be no more than two seconds. There can be no flashing or scrolling advertisements, and there are limits on brightness, as well…”

— Joshua Silavent, Gainesville Times

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