Surprise approves new billboards on Loop 303


SURPRISE, Ariz. – Surprise City Council approved an amendment Oct. 19 allowing three new billboards to be placed along the Loop 303 highway. The amendment was added to Chapter 109 of the Surprise Land Development Ordinance.

“The area where it’s proposed is pristine desert xeriscape. Even the roads are desert and they should remain unobstructed,” said Dennis Vanderplow, Surprise resident.

Vanderplow, along with several other members of the community, attended the Oct 19 meeting to voice their concerns about the proposed amendment to the ordinance.

“We strongly protest, first of all, the lack of community outreach. From the beginning of this proposal, the developer and his representatives made little to no effort to engage so that we could have input with the city’s planning and zoning commission,” said Linda Wright, representative for the Affairs Committee of the Corte Bella community.

“The value of this messaging would be vague and transitory, at best, to create what our community believes would be a public eye sore and a nuisance. Billboard blight can only be viewed by us as the City of Surprise not valuing its neighbors and their environment,” Wright said.

While many of the council members spoke on their support for the amendment, council member Ken Remley voiced his concern about supporting the amendment when many citizens of Surprise had made their opposition clear.

After a short discussion, council member Remley then motioned for the amendment to be approved and allow one new billboard along the Loop 303. A second was not made and the motion failed.

Next, Vice-mayor Patrick Duffy motioned for the amendment to be approved and allow three new billboards to be placed along the Loop 303. This was seconded by council member Aly Cline. Despite the public outcry from the citizens of Surprise, the motion was passed with a 5-1 vote. The only council member in attendance to vote “no” was council member Remley.

Citizens of the city were quick to voice their disappointment over the approval of the change to Chapter 109 prohibiting new billboards.

“We voted for representatives. You are supposed to represent us by listening to us and what we want as citizens of Surprise,” said resident Stephanie Loya.

Under Chapter 109, article I, section 109-1.7, letter F, number 11, billboards are prohibited in the City of Surprise. This has been a long-standing prohibition in the City of Surprise. The city has discussed this matter in the past, proposing changes, but until now the changes have always been denied.

“In 2018, the council voted to approve my motion on a 5-2 vote that continued the long-established Surprise prohibition on new billboards. Today’s council vote reversed course and for the first time, we will now allow a new billboard in surprise,” said Todd Tande, former vice-mayor of Surprise.