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Scenic Rapid City

Keep Rapid City Scenic!

Current Issues


Fox News Video: "Digital billboards along roadway distracting motorists"

Video: Fox News

"Media puts spotlight on digital billboard safety concerns"

"A growing number of media outlets are putting the spotlight on safety concerns around digital billboards after the release of a compendium of studies showing the bright, blinking signs are distracting drivers. 

The compendium, first highlighted by the public interest reporting group FairWarning, includes a recent study that found traffic accidents in Florida and Alabama increased 25% and 29%, respectively, where digital billboards have been erected.  The FairWarning piece has been republished by several outlets including California's Capitol Weekly and the Florida Bulldog.

Now the national Fox News Network has aired a report on the concern about driver safety near digital billboards."

-- Scenic America

-- Video by William La Jeunesse, Fox News


Rapid City Citizens

Contact the Mayor and City Council Members and tell them you won't "settle" for Billboard proliferation in Rapid City.

Stand behind the Citizens who voted 66% for reasonable regulations. TOO MANY BILLBOARDS.


The decision to settle after a victorious judgment in support of the Citizens Billboard Initiatives for regulations can set the Sign Code back 20 years! This is NOT what the Citizens of Rapid City want.

Our city is considering settlement with Lamar over digital billboards!


Thank You

We thank Judge Viken for his decision, and the work of Verne Goodsell and David Barari and its team at Goodsell and Quinn Law Office, and Joel Landeen and the City Attorneys Office for defending the Initiative's for Billboard Control lead by Scenic Rapid City and its Citizens.

Company loses billboard battle with Rapid City
Lamar billboard lawsuit against Rapid City dismissed

Billboard Removed

Rapid City Journal coverage

This Billboard was purchased by a local development company, Dream Designs, Inc. in Rapid City, SD, so that they could take it down, and use the land for housing.  They were supporters of our Billboard Initiatives in 2011.  This just happened this last week in July 2015.

They knew we would love seeing this video!

"It was great to see you and Mike today. Improving the quality of life is a responsibility of each one of us. Thank you both for doing more than your fair share."


Hani Shafai, President
Dream Designs,  Inc.

This was a completely non confirming billboard.  It was Grandfathered in and had two boards on each side.  They were two different sizes and OVERSIZED in a prime location; on a hill so that traffic had to view it.  It took away from the scenic beauty of our beautiful Black Hills since it was on the road to Mount Rushmore National Monument but still inside the Rapid City limits.


Citizens can file a complaint with City code enforcement on Sign violations and issues by going to the city website:


"New Digital Sign Coming to Rapid City, Despite Strong Opposition" 

Read the Rapid City Journal Article here

Epic Threatens SLAPP 

Lawsuit against 6 Citizens using First Amendment Right to Free Speech.  

Brendan Casey of Epic Outdoor Advertising, who owns dozens of billboards in and around the Rapid City area, threatens to file a SLAPP lawsuit against 6 citizens following a recent Rapid City Planning Commission meeting. The citizens urged Commission members to reconsider a Conditional Use Permit for Epic Outdoor Advertising that would allow a legal non-conforming static billboard to be converted to a 288 square foot digital billboard.

Casey threatened the 6 with a SLAPP: Acronym for Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. SLAPPS are intended to censor, intimidate and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of legal defense until they abandon their opposition.

“This is an attempt to intimidate public spirited citizens who have spent endless hours of their own time to make our community a better place.” Says Jim Petersen, former Chairman of the Scenic Rapid City Initiatives.

The citizens believe EPIC’S request to convert it’s static billboard to a 288 square foot digital billboard that is just 350 feet from two other billboards should be questioned. Spacing is regulated so that Billboards are not stacked one after another. One of the many concerns is the brightness that may impact nearby homes, especially at night, or create distracted driving. Another concern is that over 200 Billboard Poles that are currently on Permit with the City could become Digital Billboards. This could be as many as 400 plus sign faces. In 2011, two Initiatives where passed by 66% of the Rapid City Voters to regulate Billboards. However, the State of South Dakota had passed a law that takes local control away, with a statement in that Codified Law " regardless of the technology used".

“From the newest City in South Dakota – Summerset, to our largest city - Sioux Falls, to our neighboring northern state, to Rapid City: Communities see the problems occurring from lack of control in the billboard industry “ says Mike Quasney , businessman and member of Scenic Rapid City.

Rapid City Council is expected to decide on Epic’s request Monday night.

“The City Council needs to revise the current Sign Code in accordance with the recent rulings from Judge Viken, incorporating reasonable regulations as permitted. It would be a responsible decision of the Rapid City Council to wait before any Conditional Use Permits are granted. Planning and Zoning is necessary. The Community said Enough is Enough“ Says Lisa Modrick, Businesswoman and President of Scenic Rapid City.

Modrick adds, "This threat has caused these citizens to stand up to this bully tactic, and to let the public know of the intentions of Brendan Casey and Epic Outdoor Advertising. We have the right to freedom of speech. It is our First Amendment Right!”


Citizens attended 7 am City Planning Commission Meeting.  ITEM of interest is #19 which starts at 35:53:

WATCH the Video of this meeting on the city website here.

Video of Rapid City Citizens Speaking at the March 3 City Council Meeting Prior to Executive Session can be seen below:

Watch the video of on the City website here.

Council authorized City to take the next step.

See our news page for complete NEWS coverage of this evening's events.

Press Release - Feb 27, 2014: Out of State Billboard Corporation tries to ride roughshod over Rapid City

For Release: Thursday , 2/27
From: Scenic Rapid City
For more information:
Jim Petersen: 342-6245
Lisa Modrick: 390-3861
Debra Jensen: 484-7967

For a third time in as many years, Lamar Advertising, a multi- billion dollar billboard company headquartered in Baton Rouge, Louisiana scornfully tries to bulldoze two citizen led initiatives.

June 7, 2011 two-thirds of Rapid City voters approved 2 initiatives that limit the proliferation of off-premise static and digital billboards. The ink was barely dry on the new laws when Lamar mockingly filed their first lawsuit in Circuit Court against the people of Rapid City.

Now they are doing it again! This time in Federal Court.

On February 21st, U.S. District Judge Jeffery Viken ruled against Lamar in several areas. Judge Viken shot down Lamar’s claims that their first amendment rights were being violated. He also denied Lamar’s claims of unfair treatment between billboard companies. Lamar also argued loopholes in a decades old statute give Lamar an unrestricted right to put up billboards and digital billboards. The judge upheld that statute.

Judge Viken withheld ruling on a portion of the city law which requires reasonable spacing of billboards from the road and each other. He also did not rule on Lamar’s demand for Taxpayers to pay Lamar’s legal costs. Judge Viken concluded in his summary judgement that those issues will be resolved through a court trial. President of Scenic Rapid City, Lisa Modrick says” We are grateful for Judge Viken’s decision and urge the City to stand firm on any future appeals”.

In December of 2011 A Circuit Judge upheld the citizens initiatives. Lamar appealed to the State Supreme Court and filed suit in Federal Court. Scenic Rapid City member and Chairman of the Citizens Initiative vote Jim Petersen ,says “Lamar attorneys continue to ignore and violate the laws of Rapid City and the people’s wishes. Lamar believes they have the right to install or convert as many digital billboards in Rapid City as they want!” “There are now over 400 billboard faces in Rapid City. We have more off premise digital billboards than the city of Denver.” Petersen adds, “When is enough enough!”

“The citizens of Rapid City voted to limit billboards! Without regulation, Lamar will put up huge digital billboards on every corner” says , Modrick. “ Lamar has had their day in Circuit Court, Supreme Court and Federal Court. Now it’s time for Lamar to move on and be a good corporate citizen and respect the will of the people” encourages Modrick.

Petersen says “We will not be bullied by out of state, special interest lawyers . Nor should the citizens, The business community, Common Council, Mayor or City Attorney. We thank them all for standing firm behind the will of the people. This is democracy in action!

Our Press Release from 2011: A VICTORY for the City of Rapid City as it defends the public opinion and the vote of its citizens on Video Digital Billboards

December 6, 2011

Circuit Judge Wally Eklund has upheld the City’s denial of Lamar Outdoor Advertising’s request to convert six of its current signs to digital billboards.
Lamar made the request to convert the billboards to digital faces in April of 2011. Lamar’s request was made shortly before the June election where the City’s voters overwhelmingly approved prohibiting any new digital billboards. The City denied the permits because Lamar refused to obtain conditional use approval for the signs. Lamar appealed the denial of the permits to the City’s Zoning Board of Adjustment which upheld the denial. Lamar then appealed the Zoning Board’s ruling to the 7th Circuit Court in Rapid City.
Lamar asked the Court for an order requiring the City to issue the permits. Lamar argued that the City was legally prevented from denying them the permits. In upholding the City’s denial of the permits, Judge Eklund ruled that substantial evidence supported the City’s decision and Lamar’s reliance on any past City approvals was not reasonable.

Blightfighters Documentary includes a chapter on our efforts here in Rapid City

Below is a short documentary on the billboard issues and initiatives in Rapid City. It is a telling story and shares the process and progress of what a community and its people can do to make a change for its future.

This documentary has been released across the country to tell a story and help other communities as they search for ways to change the way the big billboard companies do business in their city.

Pass it on.....

and thank you for keeping Rapid City scenic!

Rapid City Voters Send Anti-Billboard Message - We are Viewed as a National Leader by Scenic Organizations

Nearly one third of Rapid City voters showed up at the polls on June 7 to overwhelming approve both of our initiatives with a two thirds vote. National billboard control advocates are viewing this victory as a model that can be used in other communities. Go to the News page for all the media coverage of this ground breaking effort.

You CAN Make a Difference: Send a Letter to the Editor

You can help by sending letters to the Rapid City Journal, to the Editor, or on line by going to the Rapid City Journal Link: Submit YOUR Letter on THEIR website.

The Challenge

Let's keep Rapid City Scenic!

Unlimited growth of billboards will deteriorate the beauty and the image of Rapid City to the traveling public.

In addition to the traditional billboards, new off-premise digital signs are coming to Rapid City.

It's particularly important to get ahead of this trend with intelligent planning because unlike a TV, you can not turn these devices off. They are on 24 hours a day!


You Can't Turn Off
"Television on a Stick"

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In areas of the country where people have suddenly found them popping up like weeds, it has been too late to do anything about their overwhelming presence.

Learn more about Digital Billboards by going here to our educational page, be sure to sign the petition and e-mail our city government to ask for their support on this voter issue.

We Can Make a Difference

Our initiatives were on the ballot for June 7 municipal election and we won.

The Initiatives

The first initiative put a permanent moratorium on new digital billboards, doubled the spacing requirements for new billboards and fixed the maximum billboard size at 250 square feet.

The initiative put a 20-year expiration date on sign credits, the city's currency for the construction of new billboards. Sign companies receive one sign credit for every billboard taken down and cannot put a new sign up without first surrendering two credits.

You can help keep Rapid City Scenic by sending letters to the Rapid City Journal, to the Editor, or on line by going to the Rapid City Journal Link: Submit YOUR Letter

Take Action

The efforts of our volunteers were amazing in gather petitions and getting the vote out to allow us to win the election.

You may have seen news coverage of our volunteers bringing them by the wheel barrow full to the Rapid City Finance Office Desk.

Now we need to remain vigilant.

Help make our city a better place to live, work and visit by joining us today!