Rapid City votes in favor of settlement with Epic Outdoor Advertising

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - One part of a long battle between Rapid City and Epic Outdoor Advertising about billboards came to end at Monday night's City Council meeting. The council voted 7-3 to a settlement with the company.

Epic Outdoor Advertising has been in a legal battle with the city over an ordinance that banned animation and full motion billboards. The ordinance came after the company already was using motion video.

This settlement will allow Epic to put up larger billboards in existing locations off of I-90, but the company would cease full motion video boards. The agreement keeps the current billboard ordinance in place, but will add an amendment exempting existing billboards from obtaining a conditional use permit.

Those who voted yes said it would avoid more litigation in which the city would lose, in turn spending more tax-payer money. And Epic agreed.

"When some of the original ordinances went in, some of them were honestly illegal," said Mike Sabers, Attorney for Epic Outdoor Advertising. "And if they had involved billboard companies then instead of now, we wouldn't have had to fight to get back to basically the status quo which is where we are starting to get back to three to five years later and a tremendous amount of legal fees."

But many people in the crowd spoke against the settlement, saying these billboards are a distraction to drivers and they take away from the scenic Black Hills.

"What people did understand is they didn't want anymore billboards in their communities," said Jim Petersen, a Rapid City resident. "And since then they got a lot more. The system is flawed. It's not given the citizens what they want. They were concerned about saving money, which I understand, but sometimes you need to fight these battles."

There is a separate case between Epic and the city that was not addressed at the meeting and is not a part of this settlement.