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PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A Utah law that favors billboard companies when they have to relocate signs during freeway construction has drawn complaints from local officials.
The law allows companies to pick a better location for a billboard anywhere within a mile and a half of the original location -- and even get reimbursed for it by the Utah Department of Transportation
While moving billboards, companies are bunching them up, defying local laws aimed at keeping billboards spaced more widely, the Daily Herald of Provo reported Sunday
Once planted in new locations, the billboards can stay.
American Fork says that during the widening of Interstate 15 in Utah County, it's fighting a losing battle to keep billboards spaced at least 800 feet apart.
"It's one of the unintended consequences of rebuilding I-15," American Fork city planner Rod Despain told the newspaper. "In my view, the billboard industry has purchased the Legislature and their billboard laws."
Despain added, "It is a visual pollution issue, and the billboard industry doesn't care. They understand we are in a weak position
A spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Transportation says the agency's hands are tied.
UDOT can only "encourage" billboard companies to relocate signs within the spacing stipulated by local law, UDOT spokeswoman Heather Barnum said. "Sign companies can propose where they would like to relocate billboards within that one-and-a-half-mile limit."
State law keeps billboards 500 feet apart. One billboard company told American Fork that it plans to relocate three billboards within 500 feet of one another, instead of following the city's 800-foot rule. That means the company will be able to add one or two billboards to the American Fork stretch of I-15.
Information from: The Daily Herald
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)