By Lisa Allen
Adams Outdoor Advertising is trying to resurrect a billboard they once had at the foot of the Broad River bridge, but this one will be digital.
In its request of Port Royal Town Council to amend a planned unit development (PUD), the billboard company says it had a 288-square-foot billboard on the northeast corner of S.C. 170 and S.C. 02 from the mid-1970s until 2015 and argues that precedent entitles the company to reclaim that parcel for a new billboard.
“With this text change…Adams Outdoor Advertising, the prospective buyer, would be able to reinstate the message display on the Broad River parcel in the same general area and to a similar size and height as the once long-time existing message display stood,” Adams wrote in its application.
Town officials said that just because there once was a billboard at that location, it does not entitle them to build a new one.
“The fact that they had a billboard there that they voluntarily took down does not mean they can put another one up,” said Town Manager Van Willis.
Adams agreed to take down the sign in 2015 under the PUD that includes the PARC at Broad River apartments.
“Since the town no longer allows billboards, and it is not an available use for the property in the PUD currently, this is the avenue (Adams) has chosen to make the request,” Willis said.
Adams also wants to cut in half the 50-foot setback so the sign would be more visible.
Adams said it wants to buy 3.6 acres next to the apartments and build an office there, but no building plans have been submitted to the town, said Linda Bridges, planning director for Port Royal. The company has submitted only the request to build the digital billboard, she said. Calls to Adams’ representatives were not returned.
Port Royal has banned new billboards since 2000. 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, Willis said. Jasper County allows billboards, and dozens line the west side of U.S. 170 en route to Bluffton.
The Metropolitan Planning Commission was unanimous when it declined to recommend Adams’ billboard amendment at its Oct. 15 meeting. Commissioner Judy Alling a Port Royal resident, spoke out against the amendment. She said a lighted sign could distract drivers.
The town is not obligated to follow the planning commission’s recommendation. The Port Royal Town Council will hold a public hearing on the request at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13 at Town Hall.