For drivers, they're those big things that poke from trees and strip centers along the interstate and rural roads and advertise everything from housing developments to radio stations, from churches to lingerie boutiques. The long-standing debate over billboards, which pits proponents for scenic beauty and outdoor advertisers against each other, could heat up during the next year. While many local communities in Montgomery County have set up comprehensive ordinances to prevent new billboards coming to town, a possible change to state law has been discussed that would make it more expensive to enforce those rules. A recent draft of the Texas Department of Transportation 2007 legislative agenda proposes that when the state agency has to relocate a billboard for highway expansion, outdoor advertising rules supersede local ordinances and that a city must pay the fair market value of the billboard if it wants to enforce its more restrictive ordinance. The state agency prefers to relocate signs instead of paying the fair market value, said Randall Dillard, TxDOT spokesman. Most outdoor advertisers also prefer to keep their inventory of signs stable, because the industry is heavily regulated and not many new signs are going up, said Stephen Freitas, chief marketing officer of Outdoor Advertising Association of America Inc. The transportation department's legislative agenda, including the proposed changed to outdoor advertising relocation, has yet to be confirmed for the 2007 legislative session. Outdoor advertising provides an effective way to target consumers, say local and regional billboard companies. In particular, it's effective for businesses oriented to tourism and the traveling public, said Paul Covey, president of KEM Texas, a regional outdoor advertising company with sites in Montgomery County. The Woodlands has even stricter regulation in its 30-page commercial planning and design standards: no sign can move, make noise, blink, use florescent lights or have inflatables. Even Conroe, which does not have a comprehensive sign ordinance, has recently protected two stretches of roadways in its limits from new billboards: along FM 3083 from FM 1484 west to Texas 105 and from Sgt. Ed Holcombe Boulevard between Texas 105 and South Loop 336. "The council desired to maintain that stretch of roadway in a pristine state for its natural beauty," said Marcus Winberry, Conroe's city attorney. Last year several states saw new digital billboards that have screens with light-emitting diodes (LED) and can change content through remote Internet connection.