Drivers won’t see a billboard coming or going on the Broad River Bridge, at least not any time soon.
A proposal to raise a digital billboard at the high-traffic entryway to northern Beaufort County was denied Wednesday when Port Royal Town Council declined to vote on the request by Adams Outdoor Advertising. The electronic display on that scale would have been the first of its kind in Beaufort County.
“I just see a hard time with the town of Port Royal approving this tonight without the county being on board and the city of Beaufort on board,” Port Royal Mayor Sam Murray told the overflow crowd at Town Hall. “We tried to work with the county and city and Metropolitan Planning Commission. I think unless something changes from the county, I think it’s going to be difficult to get (Port Royal) to go out there by themselves.”
Local Adams representatives told council members the company planned to build an office in addition to the advertising sign on the property on S.C. 170 at the base of the bridge near the intersection of Savannah Highway. The company leases office space in Jasper County and touted the added jobs and tax revenue in making Port Royal a more permanent home.
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“We would like to offset that expense by allowing a billboard to help promote the area as well as the businesses we all enjoy,” general manager Liz Mitchum told the council.
The company asked council to approve a first vote to convince advertising company executives to spend money on proper architectural drawings to show the public. The company also pitched the benefits of displaying public safety messages on an electronic display and its work to publicize the messages of local nonprofit organizations.
Neil Baxley, emergency management director for the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, told Port Royal policymakers the law enforcement agency supported digital billboards and had been working with Adams for a year on the prospect. The electronic messages would allow for an override by the Sheriff’s Office in the case of emergencies such as a missing person or hurricane and allow for quicker display than the 90 days required of a vinyl advertisement, Baxley said.
Overwhelming opposition from Port Royal residents objecting to the billboard’s effect on the marsh views and a hesitancy to go against town policy prohibiting new billboards won out.
“I just don’t think a sausage biscuit is what a visitor wants to see when they approach,” Port Royal resident Scott Graber said, noting fast-food advertisements in the area.