Top state court to hear billboard-law challenge

ATLANTA (Morris News) – A law allowing billboard companies to clear trees blocking their signs comes before the Georgia Supreme Court 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.
Now 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. Now the Supreme Court’s seven justices will hear attorneys from each side give their best arguments, 20 minutes each.
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.



More Local

High School Musical

Northgate High brings popular musical to Coweta

Northgate High School (NGHS) plans to bring the popular “High School Musical” to the stage at the Centre for Performing and Visu ... Read More


Mantracker

Annual officer training classes this week

In case anyone is wondering why there are 500 more law enforcement officers than usual in Coweta, this week is the annual Mantracker trainin ... Read More


Lucille’s Lucky Shoes sets record

Lucille Miller, despite battling a terminal illness, finds passion in every aspect of her life, including the fulfilment of her goals. At t ... Read More


reduce, reuse, recycle

Earth Day and ECycling opportunities in Coweta

It’s time for spring cleaning, and in addition to cleaning out the garage and gutters, many Cowetans will be hauling off old TVs, comp ... Read More


Coweta Commission

Lake Redwine request on Tuesday agenda

A decision on a variance request for a new development area at Lake Redwine is on the agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting of the Coweta ... Read More

NTH Turns 150

Newspaper offices got start as store

There are no more horse collars or anvils at 16 Jefferson St., but the corner building in downtown Newnan still has reminders of its origins ... Read More