Posted by: Patricia Salkin | February 20, 2015

Fed. Dist. Court in IN Upholds Sign Ordinance Banning Signs that Interfered with the Aesthetics of the Town

View Outdoor Advertising wanted to erect a billboard in the Town of Schererville, but had been blocked from doing so by a relatively new ordinance prohibiting all billboards. View claimed this ordinance violated its free speech rights, that it did not receive proper due process regarding its request for a variance, and that the decision of the Defendant Town of Schererville, and its Board of Zoning Appeals, to deny the variance was arbitrary and capricious. View further claimed that the ordinance violates its First Amendment right to commercial speech by banning all billboards, and that its due process rights were violated when it did not receive notice of the meeting before the Council.

A restriction on otherwise protected commercial speech is valid only if it seeks to implement a substantial governmental interest, directly advances that interest, and reaches no further than necessary to accomplish the given objective. The court noted that there was no doubt that this ordinance fulfilled its stated goal of improving the aesthetics of the Town. The sign ordinance was found to be narrowly tailored because by banning these signs, the City did no more than “eliminate the exact source of evil it sought to remedy.” Thus, the First Amendment claim was dismissed. Similarly, View’s due process claim was dismissed since it was given an opportunity to be heard and present evidence before the ZBA made its decision. Finally, because the above mentioned federal claims were dismissed, the arbitrary and capricious claim was remanded to state court.

View Outdoor Advertising, LLC v Town of Schererville Board of Zoning Appeals, 2015 WL 331940 (ND Ind. 1/22/2015)

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