No Billboards for ME

By State Senator Bill Diamond

When you drive down the road in Maine, you are free to see broad, clear vistas all the way to the horizon.  Your vision isn’t cluttered by large advertising signs and billboards, as is the case in so many other states.

Maine has strict limitations on the size and placement of signs, and these restrictions have allowed us to keep our roadways clear of unsightly billboards.

This past week, two bills were heard by the Transportation Committee that would change all that, however.  LD 1405, “An Act to Amend the Laws Restricting Advertising on Public Highways,” would alter the law regarding the types of signs a business may have on their own property. LD 1367, “An Act to Restore Maine’s Secondary Roads,” would allow billboards to be erected along the highways for a fee that would go toward road maintenance. While both of these measures are no doubt well-intentioned, they would both bring serious, and I think negative, changes to Maine’s landscape. I think this is especially true for LD 1367.  In the case of this bill, it would take literally thousands of signs to have a meaningful impact on road maintenance when the cost for road building is approximately $1 million per mile.

Drivers in Maine have not always been able to enjoy the unspoiled views that we have now. Before the current laws governing roadside signage were in place, Maine had over 5,000 billboards. Those of us with long memories can recall those days. In the meantime, advertising has changed a great deal, and businesses can reach people through the Internet and even through handheld devices. Businesses would gain little from these billboards.

At the same time, other businesses would be hurt by these new laws. Maine has strong and vibrant tourism industry that is dependent upon the ability to enjoy our great natural beauty, and the tourism industry testified strongly against both bills.

Apparently this is a very emotional issue for a lot of people. I have received as much input from voters in the form of mail, e-mails and phone calls on this issue as I have on any other this year. Of all that great volume of communication, I have not had one single piece in support of these bills. I feel that these bills seek to address a problem that isn’t there and that allowing billboards to clutter our skyline would be a giant step backward.

If you have any questions about these bills, or need any other help with the state, then please call my office at 287-1515 or visit my website at www.mainesenate.org/diamond to send me an e-mail.

Senator Bill Diamond is a resident of Windham, and serves the District 12 communities of Casco, Frye Island, Raymond, Standish, Windham and Hollis.

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