Proposal for billboard facing SR 51 shot down

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX – American Outdoor Advertising wants a billboard where none has been allowed. They want it along State Route 51.

“This site is not a question of if a billboard should be present but instead which direction it should be oriented,” attorney Jason Morris said.

The property at the northeast corner of Bell Road and State Route 51 is zoned for a billboard but only if it faces Bell Road.

Nevertheless, a billboard facing S.R. 51 is just what Auto Body World and American Outdoor Advertising want. Morris argues that the Arizona Department of Transportation has built a pedestrian bridge blocking motorists’ view of a billboard facing Bell Road. He says this is a special circumstance and a hardship.

“We are simply requesting to place the billboard where people can see it,” Morris said.

Jim Kemmeries, born and raised in Phoenix, said, “I'm definitely not in favor of the billboards on 51.”

So far there aren't any. Residents realize this is a state route, but many consider it a scenic route and don't want it desecrated by big, bright electronic billboards.

“I just think it would be a tragedy to ruin the landscape like that,” Sandi Neuman said.

The Phoenix Board of Adjustment has granted such variances before, allowing an electronic billboard near the Loop 101 and Cave Creek Road. Most people, like Mike Thompson, don’t seem to mind that one.

“I would say along major freeway and industrial areas, sure, but not along the 51 through Phoenix where it is nothing but residential,” he said.

Ultimately, the board denied the request for a billboard facing the 51 freeway, saying they just don’t see the hardship or special circumstance. American Outdoor Advertising has 30 days to appeal to the Maricopa County Superior Court.