Zoning and Billboards

I have been interested in Billboards for a while but have never taken the plunge. I am considering a deal and would very much appreciate any insights or ideas you might share. Here are the details:

There is vacant land for sale in a small county with a small population. The land has frontage space on a very highly traveled freeway.The land is zoned agricultural. From speaking to the County and Department of Transportaion I have learned that in order to have it rezoned, you have to apply for the rezoning based on the running of a business other than Outdoor Advertising from the location. They have said for example, “sticking a tuff shed out there and calling it a self storage complex doesn’t cut it”. It must be a money making proposition-a real business.

I would like to buy the land(as it is inexpensive) and could potentially have 2-3 billboards on it(based on the states spacing requirements). I only want to do it however if I can put billboards on it after I set up a small commercial business, probably 20 storage units or something of that nature. The county states that billboards are allowed if the land is zoned properly, etc. My concern is that I do not want to go through the hassle of getting the rezoning and setting up a small commercial project if in the end the county has the right to not issue building permits on the land.

My question for any of you is: If the property is zoned in accordance with billboard potential and the billboards do not break any county ordinances, can the county arbitrarily decide not to issue a building permit for billboards? If they can’t do that, then it would appear my focus should be the zoning change and setting up the small commercial business in preparation for the billboards. I have also been unsure as to whether to bring up the billboard plans when I request the zoning change, or let it sit until the dust settles after the zoning change occurs.

I just realized this post is getting long and may be tough to follow----so I will stop there with the basic details. If you need more info before giving an opinion, please ask. Thanks for any and all help-



You would definitely not want to discuss the billboards prior to the re-zoning, that’s for sure. Otherwise, they may not grant you the zoning.

Even if everything checks out, remember that cities can change their ordinance at the drop of a hat, and there may be something in your analysis that you are missing. I would not buy land simly for the billboards, unless you can afford to carry it without them. You don’t want to get stuck. That’s why most billboard companies elect not to buy the land, but instead to lease it, since it takes away that risk.