An unexpected ally cast a swing vote that will allow the Whitnall School District to bank on an annual money-maker.
Alderperson Karl Kastner, notorious for his disdain for billboards, was one of three Common Council members who voted in favor of waiving the city’s sign code at the north end of campus along Interstate 43.
The billboard is expected to generate $72,000 or more annually for the , once a lease between Clear Channel and the district can be agreed upon.
The Common Council voted, 3-2, in favor of the board less than an hour after four members of the seven-member Planning Commission at a special meeting were split on the issue.
“As much as I am against billboards – I don’t know if there’s anyone within the city who’s been responsible for taking down more billboards than myself – I think we should approve,” Kastner said at the Planning Commission meeting.
Kastner most recently and the . But when it came to the Whitnall proposal in his aldermanic district, he was on board.
“If this was a business looking to put this sign at their facility it wouldn’t even be here,” before the Council, Kastner said. “But it’s on a revenue stream for the taxpayers of Greenfield and I think that’s why I’m getting support from people saying that would be a good thing for the district.”
A handful of residents voiced concerns both at the Planning Commission and Common Council meetings, ranging from seeing the billboard from their house or yard to safety issues related to interstate traffic. Mark Rausch of Clear Channel Outdoor said the sign should not be any more of a distraction to drivers than a static board and said his company will work with residents to plant trees that will “hide” the billboard from their sightlines.
Alderpersons Linda Lubotsky and Thomas Pietrowski voted against approving the sign code waiver.
“I understand the school district needs revenue, but at whose expense? The fellow taxpayer?” Lubotsky said. “It’s too high. It’s like a drive-in movie theater.”
Added Pietrowski: “I wouldn’t want that in my backyard.”