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Georgia high court to hear billboard suit

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ATLANTA — A law allowing billboard companies to clear trees blocking their signs goes before the Georgia Supreme Court on Tuesday because highway-beautification groups are challenging its constitutionality.

The measure generated controversy in 2011 when the General Assembly considered it. Garden Club members, who had won a 2002 ruling by the state’s top court, argued the new law would give billboard companies too much power and asked too little from them in fees.

Officials from Columbus, who had also fought the new law in the Legislature, are suing to block it. They say their city’s arrangement with the Department of Transportation to mow medians and plant shrubs along Interstate 185 allows them to halt the cutting of any trees by sign companies.

A judge in Columbus ruled earlier partly supporting the city and partly supporting the sign companies.

Lawyers for the city contend the new law violates the state constitution’s prohibition on gifts because the way it gives credit to billboard companies dismantling old signs doesn’t fully account for the value to the firms of the trees they cut down.

The sign companies are also unhappy with the first judge’s decision because they say it should have concluded that
Columbus’ beautification pro­­gram didn’t qualify as one permitted to protect trees
under the new law. Permitted programs are still limited in where they can plant new trees so that signs will remain visible.

Although the case deals with trees along a west Georgia highway, the decision would apply statewide. Officials in other cities that include interstates that have been considering duplicating Columbus’ plan to spiff up their entrances will be watching the outcome.

“The eventual resolution of these issues will have statewide implications because the definition of ‘permitted beautification project’ is directly at issue and this definition is to be applied statewide,” wrote Columbus attorneys in their court filings.

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Little Lamb
45397
Points
Little Lamb 01/02/13 - 04:35 pm
4
0
Property

Let's face it, the only people who should be allowed to trim or thin trees are the people who own the property the trees grow on; or others authorized by the property owners. The billboard owners do not normally own the property, they merely lease a tiny portion for their signs. Hence, the billboard owners should not be allowed to trim without permission of the landowners.

Simple

oldredneckman96
5067
Points
oldredneckman96 01/02/13 - 08:45 pm
0
0
Bill boards
Unpublished

LL, you are almost right, leasing does by the terms of the contract, give the leasse some rights. Have you ever rented a home? If ia rent the sign and all the land it is own I might have rightts to trim trees. It still reduces down to who owns the trees. In this case the State does and that is where the problem starts. Sign companies bribing the State officials.

floridasun
310
Points
floridasun 01/02/13 - 10:14 pm
0
0
I'd much rather see trees than billboards

Driving into Augusta from the west on I-20 is a pretty ugly sight with all the billboards between Belair Road and 520
But it's Augusta who gives a hoot what the place looks like

itsanotherday1
42282
Points
itsanotherday1 01/03/13 - 02:05 pm
0
0
As far as I'm concerned,

As far as I'm concerned, billboards should be banned from public property, period. They are an eyesore in most cases, and serve no useful purpose for me. If someone wants to lease their personal property to a billboard, knock yourself out.

itsanotherday1
42282
Points
itsanotherday1 01/03/13 - 02:07 pm
0
0
As far as I'm concerned,

The small signs at exits tell me all I need to know; food, lodging, and fuel.

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