Geist residents want large billboard to come down

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INDIANAPOLIS (Feb. 19, 2014) – It looms high above the intersection of 79th Street and Fall Creek Road in the Geist area.

If billboards are designed to get your attention, this one definitely works–but residents say as a neighborhood landmark, this sign misses the mark.

In January, a large billboard that dwarfed just about everything nearby was erected on the northeast corner of the intersection, one of the busiest in the state of Indiana. Across the street is the city of Lawrence where local zoning rules prohibit a McDonald’s restaurant from raising its golden arches.

But the plot of land where the new billboard has taken roots is just inside the Indianapolis city limits and therefore within existing C-3 zoning rules.

“C-3 zoning permit off-premises signs,” attorney Mike Maxwell, who represents the owner, told FOX59 News. “It does satisfy all zoning requirements.”

Residents are committed to fighting both city hall and the billboard’s owner.

“Just like Market Square Arena and the RCA Dome, this sign needs to come down,” said opponent Bob Hipple.

Some Geist residents met with their City-County Councilor Ginny Cain and city officials last week who advised them that the owner followed all zoning requirements in erecting the billboard.

Undeterred, the neighbors filed an appeal and will have their first organizational meeting Thursday night.

“It would hurt property values, environmentally it’s not appropriate,” said Hipple. “Aesthetically it just doesn’t fit the area. The lights would come on, would show in peoples’ living rooms and bedrooms and all that when the lights would come on at night.”

Shoppers at a nearby CVS Pharmacy below the sign are not impressed with the billboard.

“It kind of overwhelms the whole neighborhood,” said Ed Welker who has lived in the Geist area for 11 years. “It could even be dangerous as big as that is to take your attention away from your driving for sure.”

Billboard owner Jeff Lee told FOX59 News he wants to talk with the opponents to his sign.

“As a friendly neighbor I’d love to work with the residents,” he said. “And hopefully come to an operational standard on such things as content and lighting control.”