Sherman P&Z denies digital billboard along U.S. 75

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
People fill the city council Chambers at Sherman City Hall Tuesday to speak on a number of items during and planning and zoning meeting. Among the items discussed was a proposed billboard that would be built at the edge of a developed residential neighborhood.

Amid concerns from neighboring businesses and homes, the Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission has denied permits for a digital billboard along U.S. Highway 75. This marks the second time that the billboard has come before the commission and been denied following a similar request in 2018.

Representatives with Shadow Tree Lane, Inc. presented plans Tuesday night that would see a 400-square-foot sign built at 817 North Sam Rayburn Freeway, the southeast corner of the intersection of the highway and Elm Street.

"We brought this proposition forward a year or two ago," said Kent Hughlett, representing Shadow Tree Lane, Inc. "We've moved the position of the board to comply with the staff review letter. We would like to see if you could approve this so we could have some improvement on the property. There is a lot of expense to maintain this property and taxes and things like that."

When the project was first put before the commission, developers were requesting a variance to setbacks for the two-sided billboard. However, the project has since been modified so that these are not needed. Instead, the project just required a specific-use permit from the city.

The billboard would have been situated in a way so it can be seen from both north and south-bound traffic. The sign would also be equipped with automatic dimming feature and would be restricted to have transitions every eight seconds.

The project received significant pushback from members of the community, who argued that the sign would be an eyesore for residents and business owners on both sides of the highway. The sign would also not fit into the character of the neighborhood, which features a mixture of commercial and residential developments.

"It would be unfortunate to have a billboard go up next to my house," Commission member Paul Manley said.

Members of the commission offered alternatives, including a traditional billboard. However, representatives for the project said at least one side would need to be digital to make the project viable.

Rhonda Corley owns property, including a home, near the site of the billboard. If the billboard was build, she would have view of it from the north side of her home.

"I would have a view of this all day and all night, blinking in my windows," Corley said.

Prior to the meeting, Corley collected pages of signatures from residents and business owners who were opposed to the billboard. The vast majority of the people she spoke to were opposed to the project, she said.

Local artist Jared Tredway noted the mixed-use nature of the neighborhood and wished that the zoning better represented the feel of the area. While the majority of the land is zoned commercial, much of it is developed as residential.

"A billboard would not be in the character of the neighborhood on this side of the freeway or on the other side," he said.

Hughlett argued that stating that the character of the neighborhood has never changed were unfounded as U.S. Highway 75 wasn't always a part of the layout but has since been incorporated into it.

"You can't take the property back that far and say that nothing is going to change," he said.

When put a vote, the request was denied unanimously by the commission.