Pellston Couple Win Billboard Lawsuit

By February 17, 2014News

Billboard owner ordered to remove it.

It took Elaine and Harold Sevener of Pellston nine months of diligent research and thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, but they won their battle against the firm that has owned and maintained a double decker billboard on their property opposite Pellston Regional Airport for the past 15 years.

The billboard which Emmet County District Judge Richard May has ordered removed by June 30 is one of more than a dozen that line airport row on U.S. 31, the largest concentration of billboards on one stretch of roadway in the county….

… The Sevener case turned on whether the Seveners notified the billboard company of their intent to terminate the lease at least 60 days before its actual termination date. Under the terms of the lease, failure to do so would have automatically renewed the lease for another 15 years.

The updated lease which the Seveners were assigned when they purchased the property nine years ago stated that the 15 year term of the lease began with the construction date of the billboard structure.

Outdoor Advertising later stated that the structure was built in May 1988, but state law prohibits erection of a billboard without a permit, which Outdoor Advertising obtained in mid-August, 1988.

The Severners, backed by MDOT, argued that the term of the lease began Aug 12, 1988 and thus the deadline for them giving notice of intent to terminate was Aug 12, 2003, not Jan 15, 2003, as Outdoor Advertising claimed.

The difference was critical because the Seveners sent Outdoor Advertising letters on April 29 and May 4, 2003 advising them that they wanted the sign removed from their property….

…Elaine Sevener said that she believes May based his decision on a finding that Aug 15, 1998 was the actual start of the lease and she and her husband had therefore notified Outdoor Advertising of their intend in time to avoid automatic renewal of it.

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