Indianapolis city officials are taking a hard look at changing a zoning ordinance to allow digital billboards within city limits.
Currently, some private businesses are legally allowed to install digital signage on their property. The signage is also allowed at Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana State Fairgrounds because they sit on state property.
“They catch your eye. They’re pretty nice,” said Allyson Cole, an Indianapolis driver.
“In congested traffic areas, I would say it’s not a good idea,” said Nancy Rice, another driver.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into the safety concerns.
“I frankly don’t see the difference between what we have now and a digital billboard in terms of safety in any way,” said Aaron Freeman, an Indianapolis City-County Councilor who is pushing for a change in the ordinance.
He has had plenty of conversations with Clear Channel Outdoor as has Councilor Joe Simpson. The company owns nearly 1,200 billboards in Marion County, 20 to 30 of which they want to convert to the digital format.
A company official said they may also consider dismantling some traditional billboards to clear up the skyline. Their billboards contain no moving video, but the advertisements change every eight seconds.
“If the businesses would be willing to flash amber alerts, silver alerts, and stolen cars, and if we could help law enforcement by doing this as well, that’s a positive,” said Freeman.
The Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development will have to pitch the zoning change to the Metropolitan Development Commission, which has the power to rework the zoning ordinance controlling the signage.
A spokesperson with the Department of Metropolitan Development said the new director is looking into the possible change.
A spokesperson for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said the mayor is generally open to the idea of the electronic additions.