• Maitland votes no on proposed billboard


    MAITLAND, Fla. - The city of Maitland held its  stance on billboards and a ban that has been on the books for 75 years continues Monday night.

    They city council unanimously voted to withdraw a petition for a proposed billboard.

    Dozens of people, on both sides of the issue, were expected at a Monday evening meeting.

    Howard Schieferdecker, Maitland's mayor, told Channel 9 reporter Lori Brown that he had decided to vote against the billboard.

    The neighborhood where the billboard would sit had come out in vocal opposition to the proposal.

    The stretch of Interstate 4 that runs through Maitland is one of the last billboard-free sections of the roadway.

    Some residents in a nearby gated community had been using temporary signs in hopes of defeating a permanent one.

    "I would hope the communities around us would be able to see us as an example of how to be able to build their communities," said Maitland resident Jennifer Sigman.

    Sigman said that before she learned about the proposed billboard, which would have sat several hundred feet from her back yard, plans for it were moving forward.

    According to Schieferdecker, during five months and six meetings, there was only one person who expressed any opposition. Sigman changed that.

    "It's a lot easier to stop it now than stop it later," said Sigman.

    Phil Cowherd is with Digital Smart Signs, the company that proposed the billboard.

    Cowherd said that the billboard could have helped Maitland by advertising its restaurants and available office space.

    "At night it would be invisible; the minor view could easily be wiped out with a few inexpensive trees," said Cowherd.

    The billboard backers had measured the distance from the billboard to the nearest house. They said it's about 465 feet.

    "We believe if everyone knows the truth, they will understand the great benefit to the city," said Cowherd.

    Once a billboard goes up, Florida law makes it extremely difficult to take down. The only way is for cities to pay cash to billboard companies in exchange for the sign coming down.

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    Maitland votes no on proposed billboard