Anger Over Billboard Leads to Appeal
After the town hall meeting, approximately 20 residents organized a committee to lead the appeal process and communications.
The Fall Creek Road and 79th Street intersection has been the iconic gateway to Geist Reservoir for years. Now, our gateway has a 40-foot tall billboard on the south side of the CVS Pharmacy. Residents and businesses alike are upset.
“It’s a little disappointing how quickly an advertising billboard gets approved for the area and not a sidewalk which is actually needed,” said Josh McNair, a Feather Cove 1 resident and organizer of the “Boycott the Billboard at 79th and Fall Creek” Facebook page which had over 1,200 likes in the first few weeks.
Area residents, looking for an explanation, turned to elected officials like Indianapolis City Councilor Ginny Cain. She fielded several phone calls and complaints, and in turn hosted a town hall meeting on February 13 and invited Jeff Roeder from the City of Indianapolis to field questions about the zoning process that allowed the billboard. In attendance were over 100 angry homeowners from nearby Feather Cove I, Preserves at Fall Creek, Masthead I and Fox Chase.
At the end of the meeting, which was streamed live on GeistTV.com and is now available on demand, residents raised the $1,650 to file an appeal with the Metropolitan Board of Zoning Appeals in Marion County. Bob Hittle, an Admirals Sound resident, was named as the petitioner. A hearing was slated for April 1; however, due to that week being spring break for many local schools, a continuance will most likely push the hearing back to May 8.
“It’s an eyesore,” said Hittle. “If we don’t stop this one, what’s to keep them from putting billboards all around our neighborhood?”
Even Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt expressed his displeasure with the billboard through a letter (download copy) he sent to the land owner, Hide Realty Associates, LLC of West Hartford, CT. In that letter, Merritt cited an earlier attempt by developers at that same intersection.
“We fought and killed the construction of a Shell gas station at the same location because it sits on a water aquifer and would serve to be an eyesore as well,” said Merritt.
CVS officials are not happy with the billboard, either. In a phone interview with Mike Murphy, District Manager of CVS in Indianapolis, he expressed that CVS is just as upset as the residents are that their landlord erected this billboard. Their corporate attorneys are working through the lease agreement to come to an amicable resolution.
“We want it gone, too,” said Murphy.
He encouraged residents to call the CVS Customer Service line (1-800-SHOP-CVS) and lodge their complaints. Even though they are not responsible, their attorneys can use the calls as leverage with Hyde Realty Associates, LLC.
Jeffrey Lee, the owner of the billboard, is actively trying to sell the rotating advertising space. In the meantime, the yellow and black “Advertise Here” sign looms over the busy intersection, poking each resident in the eye that drives by every day as they go to and from the Geist area. As this continues to develop, follow the Facebook page or atGeist.com for more updates.