Onalaska likely to allow electronic billboards

ONALASKA, Wis. — Some call them eyesores, others say they’re beneficial for businesses and the economy. Electronic billboards are at the center of debate in Onalaska.

The Onalaska Plan Commission passed a new sign ordinance Tuesday night that will allow electronic billboards in the city on a case by case basis. Right now, electronic billboards aren’t allowed at all.

The conversation is being driven by Olympus Media who wants to convert a pair of billboards to digital near I-90, one by the Harley Davidson store and the other behind Farm and Fleet. “We’re not impeding with additional light, we’re re-using the current signs, so we’re not adding billboards, and we wanted to make sure we’re not facing somebody’s back yard,” says Olympus Media Wisconsin General Manager Mary Niemeyer.

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One of the residents at Tuesday’s meeting was concerned her voice is not being heard. “Tonight, we had our one chance to give input, and I just don’t know where other venues will be for us to give our ideas,” says Onalaska resident Rachel Teske.

The new sign ordinance drafted at the Plan Commission meeting still needs to be approved by the full city council. The Council’s next scheduled meeting is May 8th.