City: Big billboards have to go

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Indianapolis - The City of Indianapolis is cracking down on big billboards.

Zoning inspectors issued citations to the owners of what the city says are ten illegal billboards that stand next to local interstate gateways. The city says the owners don't have permits, and Tuesday's citations clear the way for city prosecutors to begin enforcement action in court to force the removal of the illegal signs.

Indianapolis won a case last year against Pinnacle Media, LLC, the sign company that put up the illegal signs despite a city-issued order to halt construction of the billboards. Pinnacle asked the Supreme Court to reconsider its ruling. The court reaffirmed its decision recently, however.

City ordinances prohibit billboards along interstates inside the I-465 loop. The city says in 1999, Pinnacle took advantage of a loophole in existing laws that left land near interstate highways unzoned, erecting two billboards on the northeast side of the city. Since then, the city has worked to eliminate the loophole and get the billboards taken down. The city says Pinnacle continued to put up billboards even after an amendment to the local ordinance.

Mayor Bart Peterson said the city plans to seek a court order to get the signs removed if the owners don't comply with the citations.