Fort Smith Makes Changes to Billboards

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Driving down some of Fort Smith's busiest streets, it's hard not to notice the big, bright billboards.

"You know you have to pay attention to the road no matter what distracts you," driver Josh Martin said. "You just have to pay attention. But it's kinda hard with all of this different stuff like LCD TVs and all this other cool stuff you know."

Now, the city of Fort Smith is working to change that. They've adopted new billboard regulations, in an attempt to cut down on the distractions for drivers.

"One of the things that comes up often is, how many billboards is enough?" explained City Planning Director Wally Bailey. "Do we want to have a proliferation of signage or a proliferation of billboards? So that was one of the issues and I think that we've addressed that."

Bailey explained there are just under 200 billboards in the Fort Smith area and that the city doesn't want to add any more. Instead, if someone wants to put up a new billboard, an existing one has to come down.

There are several new rules going in to effect about things such as the sizing, brightness and height of billboards in Fort Smith.

For example, under the new rules, no outdoor advertising sign can be put up within 250 feet of a residentially zoned or developed property. Also, sign size is limited to 300 square feet on non-interstate streets; 378 square feet on the interstate.

Digital billboards are also facing changes. Under the new rules, electronic messages must remain static on the screen for a minimum of 8 seconds. The transition between screens must take less than 2 seconds.

However, the several new rules adopted do not apply for existing billboards. The guidelines must be followed though as new billboards go up within the city limits.