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Maricopa County approves new rules allowing for larger electronic billboards

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously this week to create new rules for billboards that will allow companies to increase their size and height, and convert existing static billboards to electronic displays.

The rule change allows for billboards larger than 600 square feet and 70 feet tall, more than double the size of the previous county standard.

The new rules are the subject of criticism from multiple organizations aiming for dark skies in Arizona, as the new, larger electronic billboards would increase light pollution in the county.

Luke Edens is with the Phoenix-area chapter of the International Dark-Sky Association. He says the entire county will be affected by the light pollution that comes with an increase in electronic displays.

“That really can compromise the sky quality, what we call ‘sky glow,’ at night. I look at it similar to someone driving, they can see the nearby athletic field from miles away, imagine that now with digital billboards,” said Edens.

Stuart Brackney is the President of the Phoenix Astronomical Society.

“We cannot undo the light pollution of Times Square in New York City. You cannot see the night sky from New York City. What we can do is save the dark sky of Maricopa County if not all of Arizona,” said Brackney.

Brackney says the laws also affect individuals by endangering driver safety, as larger, electronic billboards present more danger to drivers than the current static billboards.

The new rules state that billboards must be dimmed at sunset and turned off completely by 11 p.m. through sunrise, and electronic billboards will be required to use technology to limit light pollution.

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Vaughan Jones is the weekend reporter for KJZZ, and a graduate of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, with a minor in music. As a Phoenix native, Jones’s dream is to serve his community by covering important stories in the metropolitan area.He spent two years as music director at Blaze Radio, ASU’s student-run radio station. His passion for radio stems from joining Blaze his freshman year as a DJ.When he is not working, Jones can be found writing music with his band, playing video games with his friends, or watching his favorite Phoenix-area sports teams.