The State Journal By Linda Harris June 28, 2017
Clarksburg, WV -Lamar Advertising is taking the city of Weston to court over its billboard restrictions.
Lamar said it got the Lewis County Board of Education’s approval to erect a billboard on school-owned property in August 2016. That same day, Lamar said city officials sent the board a letter asking them to reconsider their decision. Nearly four months later, in December, Lamar said the city passed an ordinance prohibiting billboards within 500 feet of “any church, school property, cemetery, public park, public reservation, public playground or state or national forest.”
A month later city officials rejected Lamar’s application for a permit for the billboard.
In a suit filed in federal court in Clarksburg, Lamar contends commercial speech, including advertising, is protected by the First Amendment, and the ordinance as written is too broad.
“The ordinance is not narrowly tailored enough to pass constitutional muster due to the inordinate amount of places that advertising cannot be erected,” the suit complains. “It is not tailored to a specific street or block of the city, but is expanded to any place in the city which is within 500 feet of numerous places that can be spread throughout the city itself.”
The company also accuses the city of “tortuous” interference in its contractual agreement with the school board and suggests in its actions to beautify the city, “the ordinance not only restricts the erection of signage on property owned by the municipality, but also improperly restricts privately owned property in such a way that it amounts to a taking of private property for a government use without due process of law.”
Lamar wants the court to find the ordinance improperly restricts protected commercial speech “and order that the ordinance be repealed,” along with unspecified damages and costs.
City officials declined comment because of the lawsuit.
Lamar is represented by Robert Greer and Jenna Robey of Greer Law Offices, Clarksburg.