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City May Change Rules on Digital Signs

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--Too big? Too bright? Too ugly? 

The City of Cedar Rapids is about to crack-down on outdoor billboards and electronic signs, but maybe not all of them.

Calvary Chapel of Cedar Rapids has had their sign for almost a year and a half and so far no one has complained.

"It’s been an avenue for us to get information out to the community that we're in,” said Pastor Jeremy Higgins.

Pastor Jeremy Higgins says the electric sign outside his church is a part of the church's ministry. 

"We put the sign in with the understanding that all of those things could draw attention to things that we are doing,” he said.

The city is proposing new rules on electronic message signs throughout the area.

They include no animation or moving images, a one second transition between images and how long each image can stay on the screen.

The city says it's all in an effort to enhance the appearance of the community.

"These signs are in many cases along roadways and certainly there's a safety issue as well as an appearance issue,” said Joe O’Hern, executive director of the Cedar Rapids Development Services.

Critics of the plan say it's a double standard.

In a letter to current sign owners, the president of Nesper Sign Advertising says the city will impose the new rules on them, but not on the city owned Paramount Theatre, Theatre Cedar Rapids, the new DoubleTree Hotel or the US cellular center.

"The US cellular sign is going to meet the requirements of this ordinance," O’Hern said.

Still, organizations like Calvary Chapel who depend on their digital sign, say it can be done in another way.

"Look at one individually, the area that they are at and make judgments specifically on each sign,” Higgins said.

Next Tuesday city leaders will set a public hearing on the digital signs changes for June 25th and if they're approved they would take effect January 1st.


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