Two Men With Different Views About Billboards

by Donna McCollum

A debate over billboards has surfaced again in one East Texas community. Keep Nacogdoches Beautiful is glad a variance for a sign larger than the city's ordinance allows was denied.   A man in the sign business is not against the decision, but he wants the organization's leader to fully understand there are times a variance is needed.

The two will always debate the issue.  KNB Director Kent Hutchison says, "We don't look like the oldest town in Texas. We look like a freeway in Houston."

The sign shop owner, Jason Monday says, "The signs are a big part of my business. That's exactly what I do."

They are two men with different viewpoints about signage. Instead of butting heads, they took a drive together Friday morning to look at signs.  Monday initiated it. "That's what my meeting with Kent was about this morning. I don't want to sell anything that would go against anybody's wishes. As far as height restriction or what they need, I'm trying to follow the ordinance the best I can."

Monday carries around a rule book on new sign codes, but wants Hutchison to realize that variances can be necessary.  "It hurts a lot of the little businesses that are set back off the road," explained Monday.

Hutchison says,  "I understand the frustration the business owner, the building owners, have for signage.  And the reason the problem is now is the fact that we allowed the proliferation of these signs in the 70s to go completely unchecked, and now we're playing catch up."

Monday is playing catchup, too. A tougher ordinance forces him to seek business elsewhere. Monday points to a large sign ready for delivery. "This sign here is for Tyler, Texas, and this is the only one I have in my shop for local customers, Agri-Business."

Monday also branched out into electronic billboards. You don't even want to go there with Hutchison.

Hutchison says, " We don't want to deny anyone the right to do business, but we don't want to look like Las Vegas, either."

Monday agrees to some extent. He knows, "They are bright. They are eye catching. You have no other choice but to look at it. " Monday says that the electronic messaging business is drying up. So KNB and city staff may not have to cross that controversy. It provides more time to reach a middle ground with sign companies.

Monday says, "If I'm constantly going against the grain, it will never work for anybody. We all have to go together the same way."