County Cracks Down on Billboards

Drive along I-10 or Highway 49 and you'll see billboards everywhere. The Harrison County Supervisors say that's not the view they want for heavily traveled county roads like Highway 53, Canal Road and Highway 67. "We want those to be scenic type areas when tourists are coming on these different corridors, as 67 for instance, we want them to see the beauty of Harrison County and not necessarily an advertising corridor. We already have that on I-10 and we think that's enough," says Supervisors' President Larry Benefield.

Supervisor Connie Rockco asked for the ordinance. She says so many billboards clustered together is overwhelming. "If you look at Pass Road and Highway 49, not to pick on them but those areas do have quite a bit of signage and it's hard to read and in some cases unattractive, not just billboards but signage, period," Rockco says. The supervisors say limiting the number of billboards will keep the county roads clear of huge obstructions. "In our rural areas we have some beautiful corridors that can be scenic highways into the Mississippi Gulf Coast and also the quality of life is going to be impacted by the four lane highways and the enlargement and improvements of the corridors that are coming through those areas," Rockco says. Benefield says, "On I-10 it's a commerical corridor. You don't have construction on I-10 but on these roads you'll have peoples residences, small businesses and we just think it's better that we keep it as a residential type area, not commercial.

The board didn't decide when it will vote on the proposed billboard ordinance. Benefield says over the next couple of weeks they hope to get input from citizens and advertising companies to help them decide if restricting billboards is a good idea for the county.

According to the proposed ordinance, billboards will be limited to a maximum size of 300 square feet, and a maximum height of 30 feet. The minimum setback is 75 feet from any property line, and no billboard shall be erected or constructed within 15-hundred feet from an existing billboard. We called one of the biggest outdoor advertising companies, Lamar Advertising, we were told the general manager is out of town and unavailable to comment on the county's billboard ordinance.