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After weeks of lobbying from supporters of the two initiated measures to limit billboards, the Rapid City Council on Monday approved a ban on new off-premise signs until after the June 7 citywide vote.

Aldermen voted 8-1 in favor of the moratorium on new billboards and the conversion of existing static billboards to digital, thus preventing the city from issuing any sign permits or conditional use permits until city voters have a chance to speak on the measures.

If approved, the two initiated measures would, among other things, ban the installation of new digital billboards and double the distance required between new billboards. The moratorium will officially end after the canvass of the vote, which is typically a day or two after the election.

“It’s the message. I’m waiting for the decision,” Ward 2 Alderwoman Deb Hadcock said.

In the past month, the city’s two major sign companies have filed 20 permit applications for new digital and static billboards, all of which were denied by city staff for not meeting the requirements of the existing sign code.

Both Lamar Advertising and Epic Outdoor Advertising have said a moratorium is not necessary.

But Ward 5 Alderwoman Bonny Petersen said given the fact that Lamar sued the city in the past year to get a digital billboard approved, a moratorium makes sense.

“My big thing in all of this is just that the people have brought two initiatives on the ballot,” Petersen said. “It just seems reasonable to put a moratorium on it until that time.”

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Ward 5 Alderman Aaron Costello voted against the measure saying he would only support a moratorium if it also included on-premise business signs

Mike Quasney, a member of Scenic Rapid City, the local group that collected more than 4,000 signatures to trigger the citywide vote, said a moratorium is necessary and important to what they are trying to accomplish.

“Why are we doing the sign initiatives? We saw things that were happening in our city that we did not care for. We decided as citizens that we needed to stand up and take the lead,” Quasney said. “That’s why we have two initiatives before you.”

Council members Jordan Mason, Gary Brown, Bill Waugh, Ron Kroeger, Hadcock, Dave Davis, Ron Weifenbach and Petersen voted in favor of the moratorium. Costello was the lone vote against the ban. Ward 2 Alderman Sam Kooiker was not at Monday’s meeting because of a death in the family.

Contact Emilie Rusch at 394-8453 or emilie.rusch@rapidcityjournal.com.

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