I write this one last time to express my continuing opposition to the Loop 303 billboard issue on the Oct. 19 agenda of the Surprise City Council.
At a Planning and Zoning workshop Sept. 21 at Surprise City Hall, Bill Lally of Tiffany and Bosco, P.A. moderated a PowerPoint presentation to explain placement of three billboards (although Surprise P & Z had only tentatively approved one billboard, and forwarded it for final approval to Surprise City Council in August). I assume it was the same presentation that was ultimately turned down by city officials in May. It should be noted that the posting notice for these originally proposed billboards were very close to where the billboard(s) would be erected and not within eyeshot of vehicle or foot traffic, and close to or under the powerline grids. Not enough traffic to bring attention to the project, but compliant within the scope of the requirement to post.
Mr. Lally explained the illumination the billboard would project in “candle feet” and how light cast by highway lighting would affect illumination, all of which was “greek” to most of us. From all the literature I have read on electronic messaging billboards, they have powerful LED illumination that projects light upward and outward that can be seen for miles. They tell us the billboards will be turned off at 11 p.m. That does not eliminate our problems since most Sun City West and Corte Bella residents are in bed by 11 p.m.!
I also listened to the plea of the owner of the sign, Rhett Cooney, who was given time to speak. We understand he is a businessman whose motive is profit. But Mr. Cooney does not live in this area and cannot be expected to worry overmuch about the problems we may have with light pollution, or the ambiance and quality of life we want to project in our connecting cities. As an aside, his company is located in Scottsdale and if I’m not mistaken, that city will not approve flip billboards within their city limits. My point is if Scottsdale doesn’t allow/want flip billboards, why would we?
I was very appreciative of the comments made by Councilman Jack Hastings and Councilman Ken Remley, who both went on record to explain their disenchantment with billboards overall. Councilman Chris Judd made good suggestions regarding the need for more data to show how a billboard may be a “boon” (or not) to Surprise, and even Councilwoman Aly Cline’s comment that she would like to see chamber of commerce input (though I think we all know what they would say).
I, and all of my neighbors who are located on the back wall facing Loop 303, remain adamantly opposed to the erection of any billboards along this freeway. Residents in this area utilize their outside living spaces to the max and any intrusion of bright lights into the night skies (or backyards) is unwelcome. Also, we do not know how this illumination may affect the wildlife. Coyotes, javelinas, rabbits and other animals are night-hunters and brilliant, flipping lights will interrupt their life rhythms. Billboards may have a place by already brightly lit shopping centers and sporting event areas, but they have no place in the middle of the desert, surrounded by bedroom communities.
I hope Surprise City Council members will listen to the comments made by the many who responded to the billboard news and vote against these billboards now and in the future. I hope there are even more comments before their next city council meeting! Bottom line is flip billboards are a distraction to drivers, a menace to wildlife and an abomination to homeowners and neighborhoods.