Cedar Rapids places ban on new billboards, impact on businesses - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids places ban on new billboards, impact on businesses

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

The City of Cedar Rapids saw a 19 percent increase in the number of billboard and sign applications filed in the first two weeks of the year. So the city council decided to put a 180-day moratorium on new applications.

There's a few companies who barely got their permits filed in time.

The Cedar Rapids Convention Center, arena and new hotel are getting closer to opening. The $145 million project was funded partially by grants, and the rest was paid by the city. The goal is to make some of the money back through naming rights.

"You sell the rights to advertise and so far we've booked over $5 million of revenue for the convention center and arena," said Todd Nelson with the Frew Development Group.

Part of the package is having a logo on a sign outside the building, easily seen from Interstate 380. The permit for the sign was just passed last month, in the nick of time.

The Cedar Rapids City Council has put a 180-day ban on new billboard and digital sign applications.

"We need to take a look at how many billboards we want to have in our community, how big they should be, how high they should be, and really the digital nature of signs," said Monica Vernon with the Cedar Rapids City Council.

All existing signs in the city get to stay. All permits passed before the Feb. 1 ban, like the convention center, get to build.

No new permits will be allowed for about six months.

"This isn't Time Square," said Vernon. "So you think about all the lumens and all the lights in Times Square in New York City and, well, maybe we want to look like that and maybe we don't."

Some proposed billboards did not get applications filed before the ban.

The Board of Adjustment recently approved a new sign at Slumberland Furniture off Collins Road despite a heated debate last year over building a billboard across the street. There won't be a new billboard in that area for at least six months.

The Cedar Rapids Convention Center worked with the Iowa Department of Transportation to make sure the sign outside the building will not be dangerous to drivers.

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