Knoxville group opposes digital billboards

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Knoxville (WVLT) - If the Metropolitan Planning Commission gets its way, you will soon see digital billboards on Knoxville roadways.

Despite a push by environmental activists, the MPC recommended that the city council approve the advertisement signs.

Imagine digital billboards along I-40 in Knoxville. That could happen if the city council follows the MPC's recommendation which passed Thursday, but not before 3 failed motions first.

"Just glad it's going to go on to City Council. It's been a long process," said David Jernigan from Lamar Advertising.

But there are those who are against the dynamic displays. Scenic Knoxville, a group formed to protect Knoxville's scenery, is against them, but weren't surprised by Thursday's decision.

"We thought it would get to City Council," said Duane Grieve from Scenic Knoxville.

MPC advises that with every digital billboard that goes up, two regular signs must come down in an effort to clean up Knoxville, but that doesn't satisfy Scenic Knoxville.

"We're not convinced that's what they're going to do," Grieve said.

Scenic Knoxville believes the signs are ugly and aren't safe due to the changing messages and brightness. They await a safety study do out next Spring.

"If the federal government is in the process of doing the study, then why can't we not wait," Grieve said.

"This technology is safe, there's studies that verify that technology that's aesthetically pleasing," Lamar Advertising's attorney, Greg Isaacs, said.

The Commission is backing the advertising industry.

"This is an industry who employs lots of people and gives a lot to the community pays taxes," Isaacs said.

Now it's in the hands of the City Council and both Lamar Advertising and Scenic Knoxville will be there awaiting a final resolution.

The Knoxville City Council will discuss this issue at their next meeting on February the 26th.

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