By Lisa Allen
About 100 people showed up Feb. 13 for a Port Royal Town Council public hearing to oppose a proposal to build a digital billboard at the foot of the Broad River bridge. About a dozen people told the council that such a sign would harm the town’s ambiance and image.
Adams Outdoor Advertising had asked Port Royal Town Council to amend a PUD (planned unit development) on the northeast corner of S.C. 170 and S.C. 802 to allow the sign. It had a static sign there from the mid-1970s until 2015 and argued that the precedent entitles the agency to reclaim that parcel for a new billboard.
Beau Hodges, Adams Outdoor Advertising’s real estate manager, pleaded with the town council to move the request past the first reading so his company would provide him money to do a rendering of a proposed office on the same parcel.
Lt. Col Neil Baxley from Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spoke in favor of the billboard because of the ability to post public notices about emergencies, weather threats and investigations nearly instantaneously.
“They’ll give us override ability,” Baxley said.
Child Abuse Prevention Association executive director Christina Wilson said her nonprofit doesn’t take sides on public issues, but said Adams Outdoor has been generous in posting informational messages about child protection.
The request died when no one on the council offered a motion to act on it.
Mayor Sam Murray said because all of the surrounding areas also ban billboards, the council didn’t want to “be out there by themselves” in allowing a digital billboard.
Port Royal has banned new billboards since the early 2000s. Those along Ribaut Road and other locations were grandfathered in. The City of Beaufort and Beaufort County adopted similar billboard bans at the same time. Jasper County allows billboards, and dozens line the west side of U.S. 170 en route to Bluffton.