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WARREN Sign concerns prompt review



Published: Tue, July 10, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A Florida company has approval to erect 10 to 12 large billboards along Elm and Youngstown roads.

By AMANDA C. DAVIS

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN -- Billboards looming large over the city have caused some lawmakers to question their structural integrity.

City council will consider a resolution Wednesday expressing lawmakers' concern over large billboards.

It says council will review city ordinances pertaining to billboards and seek to put a temporary halt on erection, construction and replacement of such billboards.

Councilman Alford Novak, D-2nd, sponsor of the legislation, said the signs are a "monstrosity" and have prompted residents to call him and complain.

The issue, he says, is one of safety and aesthetics.

"These billboards are the biggest I've ever seen in my life," Novak added.

Co-sponsor Susan Hartman, D-7th, was unavailable Monday.

What state law says: David Robison, the city's director of engineering, said the Ohio Basic Building Code does not allow for council to stop the erection of such billboards if the city has already issued building permits for them.

The two-sided billboards are being raised by Bressler Outdoor Advertising, based in Winter Park, Fla., and operating in 23 states.

Officials there say the signs are 14 feet by 48 feet, which the industry considers standard.

The company says that size is the largest classified as standard. Others are 10 feet 6 inches by 36 feet, and 10 feet by 30 feet.

Jennifer Sloane, general counsel for Bressler, said the outdoor signs are built in conformity with structural plans designed by certified engineers.

"We look forward to working with city officials to ensure that any future outdoor advertising sign permit applications are reviewed under the standards accepted within our industry," she added.

Locations: The signs meet zoning regulations, Robison said, and the city has issued building permits for 10 or 12 billboards along Elm and Youngstown roads.

Bressler signs have already been raised at a few locations including a parking lot next to Arthur Treachers on Elm Road, and above Master La France Cleaners and Shirt Laundry next to the Elm Road Drive-in.

Advertisements have not yet been placed on either of the billboards, but Bressler officials say they will be commercial in nature or contain public service announcements.

Kenny Kokrak, manager at Master La France, said Bressler officials approached him about the sign, saying it would be structurally sound.

Kokrak said he watched workers raise the billboard, which is supported by one beam that goes 22 feet into the ground.

"That thing is pretty sturdy," he added.

Still, Novak questions whether the billboards are safe and said he heard of one Bressler sign in another state that toppled in inclement weather.

Robison said the most stable of structures can collapse in bad weather, explaining the company's support beams provide adequate stability.

"They're encased in concrete," he said. "I don't think there's a concern."




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