(KCPW News) A bill from the 2015 Utah State Legislative Session that could let landowners erect billboards on Utah’s Scenic Byways has been reintroduced at this year’s session.
Republican Representative Mike Noel’s HB232 would allow property owners to opt out of the National Scenic Byway designation for certain segments of their land, effectively undoing a prohibition on billboards. The measure is the resurrected version of a similar proposal by Noel last year, which was shelved in the waning hours of the 2015 session.
During a meeting of the House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee on Tuesday, Noel said that scenic byways encompass areas that aren’t scenic at all, and that property owners suffer as a result.
“The designations actually add restrictions to the roads (including) what can be done what can’t be done,” Noel said.
“It’s not just signage, it’s anything.”
Last year, another bill by Rep. Noel related to scenic byways became law. HB269 allowed for the leasing of private land along scenic byways for standardized Tourism Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) created and managed by the state. The bill currently under consideration would allow the segmentation of the scenic byways by property owners effectively giving them the power to lease land along the roadways to sign companies, or to construct their own signs.
That segmentation was something that Ty Markham, a small business owner from Torrey, spoke against at Tuesday’s committee meeting. Markham, who runs Torrey’s Schoolhouse Bed and Breakfast worried about what new signs might do to the landscape.
“Does (segmentation) mean that there’s nothing right behind that, in the distance, that people would want to look at…or that a billboard (wouldn’t) destroy the scenic value of that drive?” Markham asked.
Markham’s was the only voice of opposition, and Noel’s bill passed the committee on a unanimous vote – with 8 Republicans and 2 Democrats voting in favor of the measure.
HB232 now heads to the full house for consideration.
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