Digital Billboard One Step Closer to Morton Location

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 27, 2023 at 6:05pm

Some modern changes may be coming to some adverting space in the middle of Jacksonville’s busiest thoroughfare.

The Jacksonville City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow Lamar Advertising of Springfield to bring a digital billboard to the middle of West Morton Avenue.

City Attorney Dan Beard says the ordinance would allow for only the one existing billboard to be altered. “We currently have the large billboard east of McDonald’s that has been grandfathered in. It’s not possible under our ordinances for any other billboards to go up within the city limits along Morton Avenue. That [billboard] had existed for quite some time prior.

Lamar came to us with a request to convert the west side of that sign to a movable copy sign. They have three or four over in Springfield. The council did pass this on first reading tonight with various restrictions on its use and the fact that it can only be on one side of the sign, that movable copy, and not on both sides.”

The proposal was not met with unanimous approval, however. Ward two Alderwoman Lori Large Oldenettle expressed concern over the close proximity of the billboard to the intersection of West Morton and South Diamond Streets.

She said the proximity combined with the heavy traffic flow in and out of McDonald’s and other businesses in the area, could potentially cause more traffic accidents if drivers are distracted by the changing ads on the sign. Oldenettle cast the lone no vote on the proposal.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard says he understands but feels it will be a positive thing in the long run. “I certainly understand the concern. I think it is modern and as City Attorney Beard indicated, this is the only billboard in the city outside of east Morton that they can go.

They’re not going to start erecting other digital signs on Morton Avenue, and this is on an existing structure. There’s also potential down on East Morton to maybe get rid of some of the old wooden structures and doing another digital sign in that area.

I think it’s nice they are giving the city some ability to run some public service announcements and community-wide announcements on it, giving us time for what we are doing and what community organizations are doing. So I think in the long run it will be a good thing.”

Lamar Advertising officials said during a proposal late last year, that they would also install landscaping at the bottom of the billboard to help make the area more attractive. The second reading of the ordinance is scheduled for the next City Council Meeting on February 13th.