Scenic Missouri History
1993 – 2021
SM incorporated as 501©3 charitable organization
Appeals court rules local governments cannot prohibit new billboards
- Working with the Missouri Municipal League and a SM coalition of 40 statewide and local organizations, advocated in Missouri Legislature for bill to reinstate local control of billboard (not passed).
- Successfully advocated for 1) ban on new stacked billboards, 2) MO Scenic Byways Program, 3) State Logo and Tourist Oriented Sign programs
- With polling showing broad bi-partisan support, began initiative campaign to amend MO constitution to reinstate local city and county authority to “regulate outdoor advertising with respect to size, height, spacing, lighting and number.”
- With petition process underway and polling continuing to be strong, OA industry offered legislation authorizing any city or county to regulate billboards with respect to “size, height, spacing and lighting” and that the regulations may be “more restrictive than state law.” Bill passed and signed into law. Many communities began adopting new ordinances that effectively prohibited new billboard construction through lengthy spacing requirements, including Platte City, MO
- To the consternation of the OA industry, SM discontinued the petition drive when paid petitioners fled the state to work on a more lucrative campaign in Nebraska.
- With OA industry continuing it’s litigious ways with respect to local control, a second initiative petition drive was begun to amend the OA statute. The SOS 2000 Campaign would have prohibited new billboards, removal of vegetation on rights of way to improve billboard visibility, and clarify local regulatory authority.
- Nearly $1.5 M raised by the SOS Campaign Committee (501©4)
- The measure was defeated statewide 51%-49%, even though it passed in the city of St. Louis and eleven counties (where most of the billboards were).
- With OA industry still continuing its litigious ways, Scenic Missouri indicated in its Scenic Views newsletter that another petition drive was being considered. SM was promptly contacted by the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (thru John Danforth, a supporter of SM) requesting a meeting.
- During the meeting, the OAAA proposed a bill that would, among other things, increase the minimum spacing of billboards in Missouri from 500’ to 1400’.
- Because this would render most billboards in Missouri nonconforming uses, SM supported the bill.
- The above bill easily passed in the Missouri legislature and was signed into law.
- Scenic Missouri reduced its staff from a CEO with two support staff, three interns and development and communications consultants to one, the CEO. SM continued to work with local governments on issues related to sign control and other community beautification strategies.
- Also during this time, there was much discussion in the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) about rebuilding and expanding I-70 through Missouri, which was considered to be one of the most congested, unsafe and visually cluttered stretches of interstate highway in the country.
- SM responded by publishing a formal proposal as an alternative to MODOT’s proposal to expand I-70 from two lanes in each direction to three or four lanes in each direction.
- The Lewis and Clark Parkway proposal would rebuild I-70 in its current footprint with a separate scenic parkway to the south upon which trucks would be prohibited. The Parkway would include scenic easements (no billboards), native vegetation in rights of way, rest stops with scenic overlooks, etc.
- SM worked with scenic advocates in Kansas City to convince the KC city council to pass a bill prohibiting new digital billboards.
- OA successfully advocated for an amendment that allowed many nonconforming billboards to be reset, instead of removed, during highway construction.
- The spacing requirement in the city of Platte City had the effect of eliminating space for new billboards to be constructed. OA industry sued. The ordinance was upheld at the circuit and appeals courts and the MO Supreme Court refused to consider another appeal. So, in effect, cities and counties had a tool to stop new billboard construction.
- SM advocated a House resolution supporting the rebuild of I-70 using the Lewis and Clark Parkway proposal as a model for design and construction.
- HB Resolution 4839 passed the house transportation committee unanimously.
- Speaker of the House would not send 4839 to the floor for a vote.
Scenic Missouri adopts a new three-year strategic plan focusing on:
- I-70 beautification
- Local control of outdoor advertising
- Promotion of a new regional scenic byway, the Ozark Run Scenic Byway, from south of St. Louis through the Missouri Ozarks, through the Ozark and Boston mountains of Arkansas, ending in the Quachita Mountains lake district of eastern Oklahoma
- House Bill 1115 was filed. The bill would strip cities and counties of the authority to regulate billboards with respect to height, size, spacing and lighting as granted by OA sponsored legislation in 1998. As of this writing the bill has not been sent to the floor for a vote.
- Planning began for a fund raising campaign to staff to implement the strategic plan