Billboard buster Brinton honored, recognized by hundreds

Billboard buster Brinton honored, recognized by hundreds
Bill Brinton and Alicia Grant, Scenic Jacksonville president and treasurer

A champion for libraries and a warrior against billboards for more than 30 years, Avondale resident and Rogers Towers shareholder and attorney William Brinton was honored by more than 300 friends, family and colleagues at a luncheon May 17 at the Main Library downtown.

During the event, Sam Mousa, City of Jacksonville Chief Administrative Officer, read a proclamation on behalf of Mayor Lenny Curry, and City Council Vice President John Crescimbeni declared May 17, 2017 “Bill Brinton Day” by resolution.

The “billboard buster,” as Brinton was described by Scenic America’s Vice Chair Margaret Lloyd at the event, began battling eyesores along the highways in the 1980s when he founded Citizens Against Proliferation of Signs (CAPSigns) with Tracey Arpen, another local attorney.

The group’s efforts led to approval of an amendment in May 1987 by 59 percent of Jacksonville voters to ban new billboards and abolish hundreds of existing ones from neighborhood roadways.

Brinton’s Battle of the Billboards continued, however, when the outdoor advertising industry sued the city over that charter revision. After reaching settlements with a variety of outdoor advertising companies, Brinton’s next fight was waged against breaches of those settlements for nearly two decades. Finally, in 2014, Brinton negotiated separate settlements on behalf of Scenic Jacksonville and the City of Jacksonville against Clear Channel Outdoor and CBS Outdoor, now known as OutFront Media. Overall, nearly 1,200 billboards have been removed in Jacksonville over the past two decades.

Meanwhile, other cities and other Scenic America chapters began to call on Brinton to lead their litigation against the proliferation of outdoor advertising across the country. In a testimonial video shown at the luncheon, dozens of colleagues from those chapters paid tribute to Brinton and his successes in their cities.

Although named a Florida Super Lawyer in environmental litigation, Brinton also took on term limits for elected city offices, racism, preservation of the tree canopy, litter, and library funding. Much of the petition gathering and legal work for these issues was done pro bono on his own time.

“Bill’s work ethic is unmatched,” said Henry (Hank) Coxe III, an attorney and director of the Bedell Firm. “Bill is what our profession likes to think we are, what we tout we are.”

Coxe also addressed the personal fight Brinton is waging, saying “he is jousting at a different issue in his life, and Bill will beat that issue,” referring to Brinton’s battle with Stage IV lung cancer.

In honor of Brinton’s fight for a more beautiful environment, a $300,000 endowment has been established at The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida to fund efforts by Scenic Jacksonville, founded 30 years ago by Brinton, and which serves as watchdog against visual pollution.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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