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Glendale council to vote on controversial billboards

PHOENIX -- A packed house is expected Tuesday when the Glendale City Council meets to decide the fate of two controversial proposed billboards.

The council will vote on whether to allow the non-electronic billboards to be built near Bell Road and the Loop 101 freeway. The city of Peoria, which borders Glendale, opposes the billboards.

"These are going to be 85-foot tall billboards," said Bo Larsen, director of communications for the city of Peoria. "They're going to be massive, they're going to be ugly and they're going to be right in people's backyards."

The company that wants to build them, Becker Boards, denies that. It said the billboards will not be visible from any home in either Glendale or Peoria. The closest Peoria home is 730 feet away.

Larsen contended that some Glendale city agencies have already rejected the plan.

"The planning department said that they don't want billboards, and the planning and zoning commission said that they don't think billboards would be a good thing to have," he said. "If the city council approves it, we'll be disappointed."

An attorney for Becker Boards, Jordan Rose, believes that Peoria has another motive for opposing the billboards.

"Peoria would like to construct these billboards themselves (in Peoria) because they would like to use revenue from the boards to finance their sports and entertainment district to compete with Glendale's Westgate," he said.

She noted Peoria has been extensively campaigning against putting the billboards up in Glendale.

"There are public records to show that Peoria has had some involvement in putting up 4,000 door hangers in opposition," said Rose. "That obviously speaks to some motivation that's bigger than billboards on a freeway next to a car dealership."

But Larsen insisted that there is no interest in building the billboards in Peoria.

"Peoria doesn't want to do billboards," he said. "We're not opposed to Glendale having them, but if they stick with their current ordinance, which means keeping them in their entertainment and sports district, we'd be satisfied with that."

Rose said dollar figures aren't available, but the billboards would bring a substantial amount of tax revenue to Glendale.

About the Author

Years with the company: I started on January 2, 2006.

Education: I was born in San Antonio, Texas, but we moved to Phoenix when I was one-year-old in 1957. I grew up here and graduated from Alhambra High School and attended Phoenix College.

Family: I am married to my wife Rene', who is a librarian in the Washington school district. During free time, I may be found playing basketball in the driveway with my son, Devin. He's also keeping me busy with school, Little League, and playing in chess tournaments around the Valley.

Favorite food: Lots of favorite food, but our favorite restaurant is Fajitas.

Favorite spot in Arizona: The Little America Hotel in Flagstaff.

Favorite news memory: We have to go back to October 15, 1979. I was a country music air personality at KROP Radio in Brawley, California, when we had a 6.7 earthquake. Thankfully, there were no deaths and only minor injuries, but the entire community was pretty freaked out and listening to the station on their transistor radios. I would not want to go through an earthquake again, but it sure was a great night to work in radio and see how it can make a difference in people's lives.

First job: Working as a stringer for 'The Arizona Republic' at high school football games. My first real job was flipping burgers at the old Sandy's Hamburgers at 51st Avenue and Indian School Road. My first radio job was as announcer at KALJ radio in Yuma in 1977.

First concert: Doug Oldham gospel concert in the 1970s at the old East High School in Phoenix.

Favorite sports team: Phoenix Roadrunners minor league hockey. My dad took me to a game when I was in grade school, and I was hooked. I wanted to be a radio hockey play-by-play man. I used to take my cassette recorder and sit up in the rafters of the Coliseum and do play-by-play. It was great later in life to also take my son to Roadrunners games. Too bad the team just folded, I'll miss them. (Going to the Coyotes is fun, but they're not "my" team.)

Outside interests: My family and I are active in our church - Northern Hills Community Church in Phoenix. We enjoy going to movies, sporting events, and like to vacation at the Beach Cottages in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. And I love to play catch, basketball, football with my son.


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