Route 66 News

New developments in Round Barn billboard case

A couple of intriguing facts came out today in the Edmond Sun about an unpopular decision to erect a billboard just 25 yards east of the Round Barn in Arcadia, Okla.

In short, the billboard company says it informed the city about its intention to erect a billboard, and that the city has no ordinances to prevent one.

Before buying the land and erecting the billboard, Zoom Media spoke with an employee with the town of Arcadia, according to the statement. The employee purportedly told the company the town has no ordinances regarding building billboards.

Two other phone calls were placed in an effort to corroborate that information, the group said. Both times Zoom Media Group was told Arcadia had no ordinances regarding building billboards, and only the landowner’s permission would be required.

Zoom Media Group maintains it was diligent in checking town zoning ordinances and was sent a fax confirming that the property in question was zoned for commercial use.

The Arcadia Town Council will meet Tuesday night to discuss the issue. Local historical preservationists are particularly irked about the billboard because it would partially block the view of the Round Barn from the east.

First off, I didn’t find it surprising that Arcadia doesn’t have an ordinance against billboards. When I was in the newspaper business, I covered town boards of a similar size to Arcadia’s, and nearly all used only a nominal permit process for new construction. Basically, you’d inform the city what you were going to build, where it would be, and pay a small fee when you finished the application.

And tiny municipalities seldom, if ever, had billboard regulations on their books.

Second, I’m sure the company indeed called the city and that the city employee did say the town didn’t have a billboard ordinance. But I’m fairly sure the company was careful to not inform city where the billboard would go. Location is everything, as both Zoom Media and Arcadia are finding out the hard way.

UPDATE: An e-mail from Viola Davis of the Arcadia Historical Society asks some interesting questions:

This historical landmark is visited and photographed  by people from all around the world. It is used for weddings and family reunions.   Pictures are taken from every angle.  This bill board will destroy the view of the Round Barn.

There are so many issues to consider:

  • Can a strucure this size be erected w/o any permits
  • Can a strip of land (12 ft by 70ft) be zoned commercial
  • Can a huge structure be so close to HW 66 or historical landmark
  • How far away from property line does a structure need to be
  • What are regulations for bill boards
  • Construction guidelines
  • Sign pollution

We are looking for assistance in state/federal laws that would prohibit such a Hugh structure to be installed so close to a historical building and HW 66.

I don’t know the answer to these questions. I suspect those answers will come fairly quickly, though.

UPDATE2: Here’s a new story by The Oklahoman. A choice quote from the president of the historical society:

“If someone were to build something in front of the Eiffel Tower, the Parisians would be hopping mad,” he said.

UPDATE3: KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City posted a story Friday. It appears that the key element is whether the property is zoned residential or commercial. For now, it’s not certain.

UPDATE4: Here’s a local TV station’s report:

UPDATE5: The Oklahoman contacted Katherine Mazaheri at Mazaheri Law Firm in Oklahoma City. She said the law firm doesn’t intend to advertise on the billboard, nor did she “have any idea about the billboard.”