Local News

Town of Homer Votes to Continue Billboard Regulation Process – Residents Voice Objections

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Last night at the Homer Town Hall, residents in both the Town and Village of Homer were able to voice their opinions and/or concerns regarding the possibility of billboards in specific areas on I81.

A public comment meeting was held a half-hour prior to the Town of Homer’s Board meeting. Each speaker was limited to 2 minutes to voice their opinion or concern regarding the possible allowance of billboards in specific areas on I81. In total, about 60 people attended the meeting with over twenty of them speaking to the Town Board. Out of the roughly twenty speakers, only three spoke in favor of the billboards.

The vast majority of those who spoke during the meeting voiced their objections towards similar worries/concerns including: light pollution, a decrease in property values, the ruining of the natural beauty Homer has, and increase in vehicle accidents.

Additionally, residents spoke of a petition that was conducted where it had reportedly over 300 signatures of both village and town residents signing against the possibility of billboards in the Town of Homer.

Those who spoke in favor of the billboards spoke on how the advertising opportunity of a billboard will help increase traffic to local businesses, increase sales tax dollars, and a property owners right to earn an income from their property.

The public comment meeting went well past the expected 30 minute time, lasting about 50 minutes. The meeting wasn’t all respectful and orderly at occasions with some residents shouting towards those in favor and demanding the board to just vote no.

Once the public comment meeting was over, the Town Board meeting began with the typical approval of minutes, general bills, highway bills, and monthly reports.

Afterwards the Town moved to the moment a majority were in attendance for. Whether the Town would vote to move forward with or stop the requested comprehensive plan and zoning amendments. Before an actual vote was conducted a motion was made and a discussion period began between board members regarding the possible vote.

Councilmember Sarah Head spoke about her and Councilmember Leach being new to the Town Board since January and herself attending some of the meetings regarding billboards to learn more about the process. Overall, Councilmember Head voiced her opposition to continuing the process in amending the comprehensive plan and zoning law to allow billboards.

Next to speak was Councilmember Williams, who has been working for two years studying and collecting as much information as he can about every aspect. Williams noted he has spoken with multiple representatives, experts in digital billboards, and members of the community. Williams indicated that the billboards could give an opportunity to showcase Homer to motorists and also cited the area already has three digital billboards without issue or controversy.

In the end, a vote was on the motion to direct the Town of Homer attorney to create a draft law using the information provided by the meeting last night and by Councilmember Williams. The draft law would then be presented to the Town Board where the town may then begin the SEQR process. The vote was 4 to 1 in favor with Councilmember Head voting nay.

“An affirmative vote will authorize the Board to initiate the SEQR process, consider potential Comprehensive Plan and Local Law amendments, and initiate associated reviews with County Planning, DOT, and any other involved agencies. A final vote on any potential Comprehensive Plan or Zoning Law amendments would be held at a future special Town Board meeting to deal with this issue only.” The Town said in a Public Notice prior to last nights meeting.

The Town of Homer emphasized prior to the meeting that if a vote to move forward with the process, which it is, there will be more opportunities for public comment.

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