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Digital billboards slowly rising in popularity
Gainesville City Council reviews new presentation June 2
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City Manager Bryan Lackey

Gainesville officials appear to be moving closer to allowing digital billboards in the city more than two years after first broaching the subject.

Though no specific timeline for doing so has been set, City Council did receive a new presentation Thursday. The Council is now considering allowing eight digital billboards to be erected, with the stipulation 16 “static” billboards be removed.

“Digital billboards are a growing trend where many technological advances have been made since they were first introduced,” City Manager Bryan Lackey said. “Exploring the use of these digital billboards may offer an opportunity for the city to work with the billboard companies to improve the visual appearance of several of our gateway corridors through the reduction of the older, traditional billboards.”

Limits on brightness, transition time between advertisements and the distance between billboards will be major considerations when city officials adopt an ordinance regulating their use.

Each digital billboard, which can cost between $100,000 and $250,000 to construct, has the capability of displaying six different advertisements.

City officials said they hope to significantly reduce the number of billboards altogether.

Close to 70 billboards are located in Gainesville, with the vast majority owned by Fairway Outdoor Advertising. Fairway owns an additional 32 billboards across Hall County, where digital billboards are allowed.

Fairway wants to show ads for as little as 10 seconds before changing.  

The digital billboards, if approved, would likely be erected at traffic lights and intersections where billboards already are located. They would be equipped with LED lighting and have a lifespan of about seven years.