Last week the Senate voted 23-13 in support of SB 953, a bill allowing commercial activities that are not related to education purposes on school owned property. The legislation opens the door for all school property to be exempt from zoning when used for a private commercial purpose such as billboards, cell towers or other commercial uses that would financially benefit the school without the opportunity for public input or consideration of possible negative impacts on quality of life for residents.
The Highway Advertising Act of 1972 (PA 106) was enacted to protect scenic beauty and viewsheds, and eliminate visual distractions for drivers. SB 953 challenges the original intent of PA 106 by providing the signage industry with special protections. This also further limits local units of government the ability to establish policies which protect and enhance community character and vitality.
The bill has been referred to the House Local Government Committee. Please contact your State Representative and urge their opposition to this bill.
Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues. She can be reached at email@example.com or 517-908-0305.