What do Bojangles', the U.S. Marines, and the Dixie Gun and Knife Show have in common? Their respective messages of chicken, honor and the Second Amendment are emblazoned on many of Durham County's billboards.
The Indy drove all over hell's half-acre to conduct its own billboard survey, and found roughly 110. (We're checking for duplicates; the map will be updated over the next week.) Afterward, we could not resist an overwhelming desire to eat chicken wings, salute the flag and pop off a few rounds at the gun range.
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Prompted by the recent controversy over proposed changes to Durham's billboard ordinance, this morning the city-county planning department staff briefed the Joint City County Planning Committee on the number and locations of these ads on stilts. Download the PowerPoint presentation (2.9 MB).
According to N.C. Department of Transportation data and city and county researchers, there are 107 billboards in the county—89 permitted and 18 that are not. Located along interstates and other highways that receive federal funding (a few are on city streets that intersect with larger roads), these billboards are legally protected under the Federal Highway Beautification Act.
Fairway Outdoor Advertising, which owns 45 permitted billboards in Durham, is planning to submit a proposal to city and county elected officials that would change the city/county billboard ordinance. These amendments could propose allowing electronic billboards and/or permitting additional billboards to be installed.
Chapel Hill prohibits all billboards. Cary, Morrisville and Raleigh do not allow electronic billboards; Raleigh has tough policies on locating traditional billboards, generally restricting them to industrial areas.
We'll post more info and links over the next week about the billboard issue.