Lamar Cos. wasted little time seeking to put up digital billboard sign facings in Longview.
The firm from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, submitted applications for three Longview locations one day after the Longview City Council amended its ordinances governing digital signs.
The city’s Planning Division staff is reviewing those applications while at the same time reforming its review and permitting process as it implements changes under the amendments.
All three applications from Lamar were submitted Oct. 11 and are for the same three locations that the company has sought to convert its existing static billboard facings into digital facings. Those locations are next to a Cefco convenience store at 611 E. Marshall Ave., beside Swimming Pool Superstore at 1621 W. Loop 281 and outside Medshop Pharmacy at 427 E. Loop 281.
The applications also call for for the digital facing and the static facing on the other side of each billboard to match in size at 378 square feet.
Each of the signs is valued at $125,000, with each municipal application fee costing Lamar $613, according to a city activity data report released Thursday.
On Oct. 10, the City Council unanimously passed amendments that require billboard companies to remove at least four existing billboard facings for every digital sign that it installs in Longview.
Also, a digital facing can’t be larger than 400 square feet, and any sign on the back side of that same billboard pole must be a maximum of 400 square feet.
The city sought the amendments to aid developers who want to replace a vacant restaurant at 717 W. Marshall Ave. with an estimated $2 million new investment believed to be a Starbucks coffeehouse.
Developers have said that the deal hinges on the removal of a three-sided billboard at the site, but Lamar — which owns the billboard — wants to take it down only if it can make digital conversions elsewhere in the city. After about two years of negotiations that became public earlier this summer, Mayor Andy Mack met with developers, Lamar and city administrators to agree to amendments that, now approved, are expected to move the deal forward.
Bringing down the three-sided billboard would allow Lamar to convert one static facing into a digital facing. Development Services Director Michael Shirley said it was unclear Friday whether Lamar would choose one application on which to move forward because the company hasn’t submitted demolition permit applications.
Staff is determining what technicalities the company will have to work through under the new city process, he said, “and through this review process, we’ll be asking them to submit demo permits at their other three sign faces in order to get sign credits for this.”
Shirley said Lamar likely submitted the applications as quickly as it did for at least two reasons — to get ahead of competing billboard companies that might potentially seek digital conversions under the new local laws and because Lamar also must get permits from the Texas Department of Transportation, which can take 60 to 90 days.
The amendments require that the digital conversions must be on either Loop 281 or Marshall Avenue, which are state-maintained highways.
“From a location standpoint, these locations all look good,” Shirley said.
City Planner Angela Choy is creating a checklist form for applicants to know the city’s new requirements, Shirley said, adding, “It will help us create all of the formal forms and processes to help the next step go smoother.”