Chris Davis & The Associated Press
RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) _ A company that plans to place six digital billboards in Rapid City has rejected a plea by citizens who believe the lighted signs will be an eyesore.
Lamar Advertising says it plans to convert the six traditional billboards to digital signs, following a ruling by the South Dakota Supreme Court that the company does not have to get a conditional use permit.
Members of Scenic Rapid City say the company could show they are good neighbors by following lead of city residents who voted for digital billboard limitations in last year's election.
Hal Kilshaw, spokesman for the Baton Rouge, La.-based company, says Lamar will meet those obligations by providing high-quality billboards that benefit local advertisers.
The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that Lamar Advertising has the right to change a half a dozen traditional billboards into digital signs, a decision representatives for Scenic Rapid City say could open the flood gate to more of them.
The court's decision is about six specific billboards throughout the city.
Lamar submitted applications for the digital changeover before a new law banning new digital signs went into effect.
That's one of the sticking points for groups like Scenic Rapid City.
At a press conference Friday morning, the group said Lamar saw the law against digital billboards coming and rushed to get their applications in beforehand.
Thursday's Supreme Court ruling noted that since they did get them in before the law was passed, they're allowed to change the signs over.
While the decision doesn't change the law, some think it could open the door for similar appeals.
"Your competitor, your political rival, whatever, advertises, so then you feel like you have to do it," Scenic Rapid City chair Jim Petersen said Friday morning. "So it creates this vicious spiral."
KOTA-TV spoke with Lamar representative Hal Kilshaw Friday, and he denied this would change how they do business.
He said only about 1 percent of their billboards across the country are digital, and he didn't see that changing too much
In an email, Rapid City-based Epic Outdoor Advertising president Brendan Casey wrote Petersen's group has misled "the citizens of Rapid City down a road that only the court system can straighten out now, leaving the taxpayers to pay the bills."
There's no word on when the new signs will go up. Kilshaw said the ruling is still too new to have all the details worked out.