Havasu News By Chelsea Curtis Today's News-Herald March 31, 2017 (Updated April 1, 2017)
Amid criticism about his proposed billboard bill, State Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, said he wants to clear the air.
Lake Havasu City and Mohave County residents expressed concerns about Borrelli’s second attempt at SB 1114. Some were concerned that the illuminated billboards would pop up along State Route 95, and others believed their local senator was in it for the wrong reasons.
However, Borrelli assures constituents that he’s pushed the bill, both this year and last, at the request of Bullhead City, and the city concurs.
“Senator Borrelli and others have been working in consort with the city to seek qualification and amendment to outdoor advertising regulation,” said Toby Cotter, city manager of Bullhead City. “The City of Bullhead passed local ordinances that would allow [outdoor advertising] under certain parameters but, under state law, the city is not allowed to do that.”
According to Cotter, Bullhead City is currently forbidden to have electronic billboards, which he says could modernize their city’s current “single-pole, ugly billboards.”
The city would also receive the monetary value for each billboard and be allowed a certain amount of ad placements each day to share emergency services information and special city events, among others, added Cotter.
“I would not even be bothering with this if it wasn’t for the City of Bullhead having the desire for these billboards in the first place,” said Borrelli.
According to Borrelli, before he proceeded with this year’s proposal of the bill, he requested that Lamar Adverting and the observatory committee – whose concerns helped halt the bill in 2016 – negotiate its terms.
“I said if you guys don’t come to an agreement I’m not going to push this,” Borrelli said.
The two groups agreed to lower the billboard lighting levels from 342 nits to 200 nits, change the number of billboards from 50 to 35 and condense its distance to a 60-mile radius, all of which were amendments made to this year’s bill, he added.
After passing the Senate in early March, additional amendments were made to the proposed billboard bill to specify where the billboards would be allowed to be placed – he made the amendments to ensure that the city limits of Havasu would not be affected, he said.
“It was never going to be in Lake Havasu [in 2016] and it’s never going to be in Lake Havasu City now,” said Borrelli.
The proposed bill’s amendments would allow Lamar Advertising to place their illuminated billboards along Interstate 40 up to Kingman, along Highway 68 toward Laughlin, along Highway 95 from Needles to Bullhead City and along Highway 93 up to Hoover Dam (excluding some areas that are federal land and anything east of the highway), he said. None of the billboards will be allowed on roads south of Interstate 40, he added.
Furthermore, any digital billboards put alongside highways would require the company to apply for a permit through the Arizona Department of Transportation and then seek approval from the city or county’s governing bodies, stated Borrelli.
“It’s not like the state is shoving something down their throats, they still have veto power,” he said.
SB 1114 will go to the House’s Rules Committee on Monday.