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Akron Council OKs digital billboards

10/25/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Stephanie Kist

Council also approves fire truck repairs

DOWNTOWN AKRON — Akron City Council voted 10-3 Oct. 22 to grant conditional-use permits for the construction of digital billboards in five locations, including at 1827 Copley Road in West Akron.

Council members Marilyn Keith (D-Ward 8), Linda Omobien (D-at large) and Michael Williams (D-at large) voted in opposition. Keith and Omobien are both members of the Planning Committee and voted against sending the legislation to the full Council for its approval.

Williams voted in favor of an amendment that increases the number of traditional billboards that will be removed in exchange for the new digital billboards to 13 from seven. Keith and Omobien voted against the amendment.

At a public hearing Sept. 24, several residents spoke in opposition to Clear Channel’s proposal to construct the billboards in the city, rather than along the Interstate. The new signs will be roughly half the size of the highway signs. [For more on that, see “Five new digital billboards possible in Akron” in the Sept. 27, 2012 West Side Leader, or visit our archives at www.akron.com.]

Councilman Garry Moneypenny (D-Ward 10) credited those opponents with the increase in number of traditional signs that will be taken down by Clear Channel.

Planning Committee Chairman Jeff Fusco (D-at large) said the signs are beneficial for small businesses and law enforcement. He acknowledged there is opposition to digital billboards and a lot of emotions involved, and the key is to balance the extremes.

“This draws us closer,” he said.

Omobien, who said the signs are aesthetically beautiful, said she opposes the billboards in the city due to safety concerns.

“I do not believe they should be inner city,” she said. “They draw your attention. … The conditions would be ripe for accidents.”

“They’re good at drawing attention,” concurred Williams, who said he does not favor the digital billboards being expanded into the city. “That’s what the purpose of them is.”

In other business, Council gave its OK for repairs to two Akron Fire Department vehicles.

The city was authorized to spend $39,404 to repair the frame of a MiniTower and $18,401 to repair the engine and $105,388 to replace the frame of a 1995 aerial ladder truck.

Fire Chief Rob Ross told Council’s Public Safety Committee that purchase of a new ladder truck would run $750,000.

“I believe that this truck could continue to serve for eight to 10 years more,” he said.

Also at the meeting, Council voted unanimously to go out for bid for real and personal property insurance. An increase is expected this year; $1 billion in coverage is estimated to cost the city $770,000 annually.

Also at the meeting, Keith commended the Firestone High School marching band for placing No. 1 in all categories at a band competition in New Philadelphia Oct. 20.

The next Akron City Council meeting will take place Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Akron Municipal Building, 166 S. High St. Committee meetings are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. that afternoon, also in Council Chambers.

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