Monday, March 9, 2015

Lawsuit Seeks Billboard Removal

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 1:18 PM

Residents think this billboard close to Ayers Street violates the Unified Development Code. - MARY BAKER
  • Mary Baker
  • Residents think this billboard close to Ayers Street violates the Unified Development Code.

Three Downtown residents have filed lawsuits that allege three Medical District billboards don’t meet city zoning codes and have asked a local judge to have them removed.

Memphis Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter will hear the three suits on Thursday. Attorneys for the residents said the billboards are within 100 feet of areas zoned for residential use and claim that is a violation of the Unified Development Code (UDC).

Webb Brewer, an attorney for Memphis-based firm Brewer and Barlow, will represent the residents in court Thursday. He said the billboards violated code laws when they were built and they continue to violate the new rules for billboards set forth in the UDC. This, he said, makes the billboards illegal and not grandfathered in as some other billboards that don’t meet the code.

Two of the billboards in the center of the new suit are owned by media giant Clear Channel. The other is owned by Outfront Media, formerly CBS Outdoor Americas Inc.

Brewer said the companies contend that code enforcement officials, not private citizens, are the only ones who can bring a suit to remove a billboard.

Brewer said one of the women behind the lawsuit lives underneath a billboard and that during storms the sign will sway and that she’s afraid it might fall on her house.

“The billboards are lit and, like most people, they don’t want to live with a big billboard like that over their heads,” Brewer said.

Revised: A previous version of this story contained an error. It said the billboards in the center of thew lawsuit were built after the UDC was enacted. But attorneys said they were built before the UDC was adopted. But the billboards, they said, violated code laws in place before the UDC. 

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