Board says no to Whetstone billboard permits

By Shar Porier
January 28, 2009

BISBEE � Whetstone residents and backyard astronomers who opposed the installation of two billboards on Highway 90 can breathe easy now that the Cochise County Board of Supervisors denied the appeals submitted by Stott Outdoor Advertising.

The company appealed a county Planning and Zoning Commission vote made last month that denied the special-use permits due to community opposition.

Stott proposed the installation of two, double-sided, lighted billboards that would be 35 feet tall. The plan was to install them at the intersections of Highway 90 and Allen Lane and Highway 90 and Redwing Lane.

At the meeting with the supervisors Tuesday, Brian Daubert, speaking on behalf of Stott Outdoor Advertising, made a case in support of having the billboard permits approved, noting the moratorium on billboards expired 90 days after the 1988 resolution was approved. He said the signs would only be available to local businesses, though just what local meant was not defined, and sign space not sold would be made available to nonprofit organizations at no cost. A number of people spoke out against the billboards by signing petitions and sending in letters and e-mails. Only property owners Johnny Cooper and Annette Gerhardt who would turn a profit from the land leases spoke in favor of reversing the commission�s decision.

Even though Daubert was willing to give up a few feet in height and the illumination, the supervisors stood united and firm.

�Each community is different and has the ability to speak for itself. Whetstone has spoken on these issues,� Supervisor Richard Searle said.

Supervisor Ann English was clear in her view.

�At this moment, I cannot envision saying �yes� to another billboard,� she said.

English was a member of the board in 1988 when the moratorium was enacted. She was disappointed the county planning and zoning department staff did not move forward with a complete ban on billboards.

�I don�t support billboards,� Supervisor Pat Call said. �I�m proud of our views and billboards threaten those views � The residents have spoken quite loudly.�

Call said he would request a work session to discuss a billboard policy, but Searle said, �I like that people can ask and we can then leave it up to the residents to decide.�

Two years ago, the board approved a billboard in St. David, but that was only because the community did not offer opposition, Searle said.

On another issue, the supervisors agreed with a recommendation from the Public Lands Advisory Committee to oppose adding the black-tailed prairie dog to the Endangered Species List.

A letter will be sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stating, in part, that the county and its rural agricultural character would be harmed by the listing of the black-tailed prairie dog.

�It is our understanding that any listing of the species would trigger a designation of critical habitat for the black-tailed prairie dog which could have disastrous economic consequences for agriculture,� a portion of the letter read.

Instead, the supervisors prefer that the Arizona Game and Fish Department manage its own populations.

In other business on Tuesday, the Cochise County Board of Supervisors:

  • Gave approval for County Procurement Director Dave Seward to award a $91,081 contract to Cornerstone Environmental Group LLC for design and engineering services to expand the liner of cell No. 3 at the landfill.
  • Approved a prepaid legal contract between the Cochise County Attorney�s Office and Arizona School Risk Retention Trust for the schools, which allows county attorneys to provide legal services.
  • Approved the formation of a Coronado National Forest Resource Advisory Committee.

Herald/Review reporter Shar Porier can be reached at 515-4692 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Copyright © 2009 The Sierra Vista Herald

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