Ann Arbor Imposes 180-Day Ban on Digital Signs

At its April 16, 2012 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council unanimously voted to impose a 180-day moratorium on two things: (1) city staff consideration of applications to erect digital billboards; and (2) the erection of digital billboards.

Coming under the temporary moratoria are “billboards commonly referred to as ‘electronic message centers,’ ‘electronic message boards,’ ‘changeable electronic variable message signs,’ or any billboard containing LEDs, LCDs, plasma displays, or any similar technology to project an illuminated image that can be caused to move or change, or to appear to move or change, by a method other than physically removing and replacing the sign or its components, including by digital or electronic input.”

The resolution passed by the city council acknowledges that such signs are already prohibited by the city’s sign ordinance. From that ordinance, the list of prohibited signs include those that “… incorporate in any manner or are illuminated by any flashing or moving lights other than for conveyance of noncommercial information which requires periodic change.”

The resolution passed by the city council was added late to the agenda, after the printed copies of the agenda were made for the council chamber audience. Based on the time stamp on the online agenda, the item appears to have been added at 6:48 p.m. – for the council meeting scheduled to start at 7 p.m. The item was sponsored by mayor John Hieftje.

This brief was filed shortly after the council meeting concluded in the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow.