Highway Beautification Act

How much does the Highway Beautification Act affect billboards, is this just for Interstate Highways?

The Beautification Act pretty much controls everything except surface streets. It covers Interstate Highways, State Highways, and even minor Farm to Market roads. If you are unclear, in your state, exactly what roads are affected, contact the State and they will tell you. But it’s a lot more than you think.

Hello Frank,

I took your advice and looked up the codes on the Texas codes website http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/
—Frank, bet you wish you would have had this information avaiable to you when you first started out :slight_smile:

It looks like there are 2 transportation codes that apply to billboards.


Chapter 394 deals with the design structure of the sign and Chapter 391, Sec. 391.031 actually says where you can place a billboard in an unincorporated area.

Sec. 391.031.
A person does not commit an offense if the person erects or maintains in an area described by Subsection (a):
(A) is designated industrial or commercial under authority of law; or

      (B)  is not designated industrial or commercial under authority of law but the land use is consistent with an area designated industrial or commercial;

(B) says that the land use is consistent with an area designated industrial or commercial. Frank, if the land has 10,000 feet of highway or FM road frontage and has a commercial building on it could you put a billboard anywhere on the 10,000 feet of road frontage? Also, if a parcel of land is being used for commercial agricultural, could you put a billboard on that?

A lot of the ordinance is subject to the interpretation of the guy in the field. I would call and talk to them about how they would approach such a situation. The unzoned commercial area of the ordinances is by far the most “subjective”. And, yes, I wish they’d had the internet back then.

Frank, I will call the State of Texas Transportation department and update this thread.

PS: Below is a link that shows a billboard in the country(not in any city limits) and there is no industrial or commercial buildings around.

Either they are out of compliance or you can put billboards in AG land because it is considered commercial, what do you think.


Hi Again Frank,

Just got off the phone with a guy from TXDOT from Paris Texas at 903-737-9302 and he said the following:

In un-zoned/unincorporated areas aka rural areas there are 2 different options to place billboards:

  1. Hi-Way Beautification Roads (example hwy 75 - 69 - 121 etc)
    a) On These roads there has to be 2 businesses located no less that 500 feet next to each other.

  2. Rural Roads (non hi-way Beautification roads)
    a) Only needs to be one business

The guy said that the business has to be a business like a general store that has a fulltime office; it cannot be storage buildings with no office.

Frank, I will start looking around here for locations and update this thread. I am trying to think of locations with 2 stores on the Hi-Way Beautification Roads but cannot think of any off hand.

TXDOT Billboard Rules for Texas:

Frank, The Highway Beautification Act is a lot bigger hurtle than I ever imaged! I thought you could put a billboard anywhere is the country, but that cannot be further from the truth.

I drove Hi-Way Beautification Roads (example hwy 75 - 69 - 121 etc) for about 4 hours today and any where there were 2 buildings there was a monopole billboard.

It looks like the Dallas; Sherman Texas rural area is saturated with Billboards. Kind of like mobile home parks, if you want to own a mobile home park you will have to buy and existing one.


  1. McKinney, Texas (No Billboards Except on Major Hi-ways (all locations are taken, that I can tell)
  2. Bells, Texas (No Billboards Allowed)
  3. Wylie Texas (No Billboards Allowed)

Example Case:

In conclusion Frank I do not think that there are any places available to build billboards, maybe back in your golden days if was different but current days it does not look good unless you are Lamar, CBS or clear channel.


You are oversimplifying the process. I know all the markets you mentioned – they are all in my old territory. Many of the signs in those markets, especially the stack units between Sherman and Gainesville, are relatively new. If it was as easy as just driving around a little and finding locations, then they would have no value. You have to start with a zoning map at one end of each market, and measure every legally zoned location in the entire town, until you reach the end of the city limits. Then repeat the process on the next highway in that town, and so on. It must be a scientific approach – not haphazard. In Dallas/Ft. Worth, there are about 100 suburban cities. Only once you’ve mapped out and scientifically hit every legal location – and the unzoned commercial in between them – can you say a market is exhausted. They told me there were no legal locations left when I got started, and I found hundreds of them. But I did it with a zoning map and a measuring wheel, and thinking “outside the box” when I hit gray areas. Have you bought my course? I only ask because it tells you the entire process to follow in more detail than the space I have here. What I mapped out in it is the only strategy that works that I know of.

As always, thank you for the reply Frank. When you say that you have to start with a zoning map you are talking about inside city limits, because rural areas do not have zoning correct? If you are in a rural area between two cities you have to look for 2 businesses that are 500 feet next to each other.

That’s roughly correct, except that the unzoned commercial rules in Texas are fairly complicated. I would review them further, because the two businesses, I believe, have to be touching on one common property line, and there are stipulations about hours of operation and, I think, even the existence of running water. The goal from the Texas statutes is to stop the little knownn practice of artificially “creating” a fictitious business next to a legitimate one, just to trigger the right to build a billboard. This was rampant in the 1980s and is much reduced now (although not 100%). States do not all have the same rules on unzoned commercial, so you have to check out the specific laws on any state that you are working in.

Before you go to the zoning map phase, you must first make a grid of the city’s laws, such as size, height, zoning categories, and even basic data like if they allow billboards.

Hey Frank,

I took your advice and started looking for locations inside city of Sherman, Texas city limits and found 2 places that are marked commercial on the zone map but the city code says:

“Billboards (Poster panels or bulletins, multi-prism signs, or painted or printed bulletins). Outdoor advertising signs of this type shall be permitted in the C-2, M-1, M-1.5, and M-2 Districts with a Specific Use Permit and subject to the following conditions:”

What is a “Special Use Permit”, does this mean even if the location is zoned commercial you still cannot place a billboard unless the city approves?

PS: I talked with the following citys and no billboards in the city limits…WOW
Bells, WhiteWright, Anna, Wylie, Melissa, these are just the cities I have called so far, it seem like the bigger cities like Sherman, Dension, McKinney, Dallas, etc do allow billboards in certain locations.


You have to get a special use permit, if that’s what the code reads. I’ve obtained them before, and they are going to require you to possibly go before the planning and zoning department and even the city council. I did not suggest you work the Sherman market specifically, or the other markets you discussed (to my knowledge, Dallas is in full moratorium). You need to mark out a territory, as I describe in my book, and then go through it in depth. It will contain probably 100+ cities, as well as an enormous amount of unzoned property, and then you have to work it in logical order and extreme detail. The markets you named are among the most picked-over ones on the planet. I would work a different direction.

Talked with Sherman Planning and Zoning and she said the same thing that you said Frank that you would submit you billboard location idea and see if they approve. It would seem like they would just state in the ordinances what can go where.

Frank, if the Dallas area is saturated where else would I go. To another state, or go to smaller towns. Should I get a map and mark out 100 cities and start calling and see who allows billboards and who does not and then start looking in the location where billboards are allowed.

There is a nice spot on hwy 380 in McKinney that is zoned AG and it is a field. A billboard could be placed in the field but it the property is zoned residential will they make you moves the billboard or is it grand fathered in?

Have a good day!


You need a cohesive plan – you can’t jump around. You need to mark a territory and work that territory like a scientist. I describe in detail how to do it in my books, or you can glean some of it from the site and forum. You have to build a system and then work the system. Your territory should include at least 100 cities and towns, and you should get the ordinances and see who allows them. However, there are also tricks to getting permits in areas that are not, on the surface, allowing signs – which is explained in my book.

I don’t think McKinney will allow you to build in AG zoning, but it has been a long time since I looked there. I believe the zoning has to be either soome form of commercial, or an “underlying” commercial zoning class.

Hey Frank,
Is it now mandatory to purchase a $2,500.00 bond in Texas for one sign now? No matter what county or location of the sign (assuming its a legal sign and conforms to the city ordinances and laws)?