Bob Hydrick Deals with the Facts in the Billboard Controversy

Dick: Thanks for bringing to my attention Willam E. Board’s response to your post following our conversations last weekend. If Mr. Board wants to deal with the facts then let’s do so.

Fact: Under existing law and regulations the issuance of a vegetation management (tree-cutting permit) is by definition a privilege and not a right, because the DOT Commissioner has the discretion to withhold (deny) a permit if the vegetation to be removed falls into several categories spelled out in the regulations. This the basis of the lawsuit filed by the City of Columbus, Gateways and Trees Columbus.

Under SB 164, this discretionary authority will be eliminated. Mr. Board is right in that a permit is still required,  but the language reads “shall be issued.” making it a right, which takes away the DOT commissioner’s discretionary authority.

Fact: As to trees planted as a part of a beautification project, as Mr. Board stated SB 164 does protect trees planted before January 1, 2009. But, as he also noted, it makes any trees planted after that date fair game for a mandatory vegetation management permit. Here’s an example of what that could mean. Right now Gateways and the DOT and others are spending millions of dollars in public and private money to landscape the Victory Drive 185 interchange creating a Gateway to Ft. Benning that will be a community landmark. Under SB 164, any trees planted on the rights of way as a part of this project would be eligible to cut any time in the future if the billboard company decides it wanted to put up a billboard adjacent to the project.

Fact: SB 164 is a bad bill and the people of Georgia recognize it as a poll done for Scenic Georgia by the widely-respected polling firm, American Viewpoint last month clearly demonstrates.  500 respondents were asked this question: “Do you favor or oppose the State of Georgia allowing billboard companies to cut down trees on public property so that motorists can see billboards located on nearby private property?” It wasn’t even close: 72% said NO! and 24% said Yes.

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2 Responses to “Bob Hydrick Deals with the Facts in the Billboard Controversy”

  1. William E Board Says:

    Dick,

    I appreciate your publishing my comments to rebut Mr. Hydrick’s inaccuracies. But, as I feared, all my article did was add fuel to the fact of what I stated in my response…..This is just an “I hate Billboards” issue, not a tree cutting issue. It is clear that the facts will continue to be twisted and totally lacking in evidence by those who don’t have a love for the economy of Georgia or by those who will do whatever it takes to eliminate billboards from the planet. (As so insinuated on the Scenic America website)

    But, allow me to respond to Bob’s comments please.

    1) I’m afraid Bob is wrong again about the definition of “Vegetation Management”. I happen to have the Vegetation Management Control Act in my hand as I write this and the definition for “Vegetation Management” is-ALL PLANNED WORK ACTIVITES RELATING TO LANDSCAPE AND ROADSIDE DEVELOPMENT ON PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY. THESE ACTIVITES MAY INCLUDE THE REMOVAL, OR PRUNING OF TREES OR OTHER VEGETATION, GRASSING, EROSION CONTROL, AND ANY MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT OF THEIR RELATED FEATURES. Also, in the policy manual it shows that as long as the Billboard Company meets all of the criteria asked for in the application and it is verified by the Dept. of Transportation, a permit SHALL be issued. Otherwise, the discretion that the Dept would have would be unconstitutional and they most likely would have been sued by one or several of the Billboard Company’s by now. The frivolous lawsuit between Trees Columbus and CBS Outdoor has no merit. CBS Outdoor has vegetation permits from the Dept and acted on those permits. The Dept had no choice but to issue them because CBS met all of the criteria set in place as an act of LAW by the Georgia State Congress. That is NOT a privilege, it is Georgia Constitutional LAW, having met the requirements.
    2) I’m afraid Bob is inaccurate once again or he is “twisting” his words to suit his argument. NO beautification project (i.e. Victory Drive 185 interchange) shall be allow to be removed by any Billboard Company and no permit shall be issued where there was any beautification project involved with the planting of. Not now, not ever. Bob took the part of SB164 that showed that after the 3 year pilot program and after every district has waited their turn to cut, then the Billboard Company may trim or remove any vegetation following the issuance of a permit on any tree not protected by the Bill and he twisted that to suit his needs. The Bill is VERY clear on this and Bob’s attempt to twist it to his benefit is further evidence of the hatred towards the Billboard industry and the attempted eradication of it. Once again…..his issues aren’t about trees.
    3) On his last point…..SB164 is a bad Bill. Well, that’s more of an opinion in my view. And I realize that people are entitled to their opinions. That’s what makes this country as great as it is. We don’t all have to agree on the same thing. Bob will never like or support ANY bill that suggests the Billboard Industry be able to trim or remove trees or vegetation, and that’s okay! Just as I will never like or support ANY bill that does harm to the Billboard Industry. But the difference is this….I am not twisting my words as to what SB164 states and represents, not polling folks I know will oppose Billboards and I’m not even irritated that you have chosen to take on this argument on your site. You’ll notice that Bob couldn’t come out and say I was wrong in any of my comments in my previous letter….because I took them from SB164 itself. He has not quoted one thing from the new Bill to verify his statements. Coincidence?
    4) What does irritate me are the inaccuracies and manipulation that has been attempted herein by someone of Bob’s position. I really would have expected more from a former Mayor, and a current Board Member of Trees Columbus. What does irritate me is the fact that Bob, the Scenic folks and other conservation groups can’t just come out and say….”WE HATE BILLBOARDS PLEASE DO NOT VOTE FOR THIS BILL!!!” Instead the inaccuracies and manipulation begin as evidence in my two letters now. It is very disheartening to see anyone lower themselves to these levels when they know in their heart that they are wrong. I’m sorry for you Bob. I’m sorry you hate the Billboard Industry the way you do. They must have done something really terrible to you, huh? Well, nothing I can write here will ever change that.

    Thank you once again, Dick, for your time and energy with this issue. I’m sure Bob will have something to say about what I have written, as most filled with the kind of hate he must have within him would. But to all of you reading this, please remember that I have been bluntly accurate and upfront. If you want to read SB164 for yourselves, I encourage you to go to: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legis/2009_10/sum/sb164.htm and do so. Thanks for your time.

    William E Board

  2. O. B. Honest Says:

    William E Board? Bill Board? Billboard?

    That’s funny, but, bless his heart, he’s just plain wrong about SB 164.

    1. It is not unconstitutional for the DOT to have discretion over the issuance of permits.

    2. SB 164 says: (8) No removal of any tree planted PRIOR TO JANUARY 1, 2009, as part of any local, state, or federal government or specifically identified beautification project shall be permitted under this Code section unless written approval is obtained from the sponsoring jurisdiction. Mr. Billboard is not seeing what he does not wish to see.

    3/4. I believe it is Mr. Billboard’s comments that are hate-filled. My mama and aunt were Garden Club members and if they were still around today, they and their friends would be appalled at this bill and any state representative who supports it.

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