Adams Outdoors Pursues School Campus Digital Billboard Deal With DCS

dcs billboard
A proposed deal for two one-sided digital billboards on school property has been set aside for now.

Adams Outdoors could increase their billboard presence within the city of Dexter through a deal with Dexter Community Schools that has been in the works and is beginning to make the rounds of public discussion at the districts meetings.

Correction: Only the Adams Outdoor billboard on Dexter-Ann Arbor is in the city’s jurisdiction, while the existing analog sign on Baker is within Scio Township’s regulatory purview. Also the city will have no regulatory influence over these proposed signs, as they are on Dexter Community Schools property, and as such are exempt from the city’s zoning oversight. City officials also noted that the zoning for the land on which these billboards are proposed prohibits electronic billboards from being placed there as per the city’s code of ordinances.

Representatives of the North Carolina-based billboard advertising company, which also operates in Illinois, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin, attended last night’s Board of Education meeting to answer questions posed by board members.

The first billboard would be located at Baker Road between Creekside Intermediate School and Baker Elementary, while the other one would be positioned at Dexter Ann-Arbor Road in front of Mill Creek Middle School. The 10.5 by 25 feet signs would have digital faces that rotate ads across eight different positions every eight seconds. The other billboards that Adams already operates on Baker and Dexter-Ann Arbor are 10 by 30 feet.

The district would received $40,000 in additional income from leasing the land for the billboard footprints on a yearly basis, according to a project summary published in the school board’s packet for the meeting.

While the district is always looking for new revenues streams in the face of ever-dwindling funding, several board members expressed concerns over the proposal to Adams Outdoor Sales Representative Michael Thompson.

“I’m concerned about the track and field events at Mill Creek (being affected by the sign’s placement),” DCS Board of Education President Michael Wendorf said to Thompson. “You need to talk to the other coaches that will be impacted by this, so we’re protecting our kids.”

Sharon Raschke, director of finance and business for the district looks at a digital billboard mockup.

District officials will have to coordinate any deal with Adams with the impending roundabouts that will be going in at the corner of Shield Road,

Board Trustee Barbara Read said she would like to see a HAWK (High-intensity Activated Crosswalk) light system installed on Baker Road in order to mitigate any distracted driving resulting from having a bright flashing billboard in the vicinity.

She and others on the board questioned whether Adams Outdoor would cover the costs associated with such a measure if the ongoing discussions that will pick up again during the February Board of Education meeting go further in that direction.

“I have seen kids do dangerous things there and sometimes drivers just aren’t paying attention,” she said.

Superintendent Chris Timmis said he would be reaching out to residential neighbors in the vicinity of the proposed sign sites to gauge their reactions and hear their concerns.

“The impetus is the financial part, but it’s a community decision,” Timmis said.

Board questions about the luminescence level of the billboards were not given an answer at the meeting. Thompson said he would get an answer to that question and present it at the next board meeting.

Wendorf confirmed that these billboards would operate under similar lease agreements to the ones that the company has with the city of Dexter for existing analog billboards on Baker and Dexter Ann-Arbor Road. Those agreements prohibit explicit or even slightly objectionable content.

Dexter will be distinguished as the first host to digital billboards in Washtenaw County if this proposal passes through discussion, the review process, and ultimately a vote by the board.

The closest digital billboard that’s already established is in Whitmore Lake in Livingston County.

Governor Rick Snyder’s recent veto of proposed legislation that would have allowed billboard leases on public school property near freeways, which would have jeopardized federal highway funding, does not prohibit Dexter Community Schools from entering into this deal with Adams Outdoors as the land isn’t near a highway.

Adams Outdoors did sponsor the legislation struck down by Snyder’s veto pen last week.

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