Posts Tagged ‘highway beautification’

Save Highway Trees; Urge Governor Deal to Veto HB 179

May 2, 2011

There is still a chance, perhaps a small one, but a chance nevertheless, to block the billboard industry’s attempt to clear-cut taxpayer owned trees on the state’s highways.  It will take a veto by Governor Deal. 

Former state representative and retired Columbus lawyer Milton Jones, who is an enthusiastic  Trees Columbus booster, states the problem and the solution.

Problem:

House Bill 179 allows billboard companies to clear-cut every single tree in a view zone in front of a billboard. Thanks to powerful billboard interests, HB 179 passed the Georgia General Assembly despite significant public opposition.

Billboard owners can already trim and cut trees in front of billboards under existing law, but HB 179 would cut down every single hardwood and pine tree in a 250 foot view zone in front of billboards. These are trees owned by the public that would be sacrificed for private gain. HB 179 harms the scenic beauty of Georgia.

Solution:

Urge Governor Deal to stand up for trees and veto House Bill 179.  You can email the governor by clicking here.

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Voters Beat the Lobbyists Again on the Billboard Bill

April 4, 2009

The bill that would give billboard companies more power to cut trees on public property didn’t make it through the House.   It had been defeated earlier in the week but the House agreed to a recall;  however, that didn’t happen.  The legislative session ended and SB 164 is dead for now.  Its proponents promise to bring it up again in the next session.

The big lesson here?  Massive numbers of voters contacting their representatives can overcome powerful, well-financed lobbyists for vested interests.  It took a tremendous effort by environmental groups to block this measure again,  but that effort paid off.

Now, we have to stay alert because the billboard industry lobbyists will not give up.  It is a pretty safe bet to say they will be back next year.  But,  folks who want to keep our highways green and beautiful have shown for two years in a row they can put up a good fight.

By all means,  please thank your representatives for being responsible enough to kill the bill for another session of the legislature.

The Billboard Bill Fails in the House, but It Could be Voted on Again

April 2, 2009

While we can feel good about the responsible way that a majority of Georgia House members voted down SB 164,  which gives billboard companies more power to cut down trees on public property,  we can’t relax yet.  The bill was defeated, but a vote to reconsider was passed so it could come up again.  Friday is the last day of the legislative session.   It would be a good idea to contact your state representative,  thank him or her for voting against the bill and urge him or her to vote no again if it does come up before the legislative session ends.

URGENT! The Billboard Bill Gets Georgia House Consideration Tomorrow

March 31, 2009

If you haven’t already contacted your state representative via telephone or email, let me urge you to do it now.  Josh McKoon, Common Cause and Republican activist,  informs me that SB 164, the one that gives billboard companies more power in cutting down trees on public property so  you can see billboards better,  is scheduled for consideration on the House floor TOMORROW.

PLEASE LET YOUR STATE REPRESENTATIVE KNOW YOU WOULD LIKE FOR HIM OR HER TO VOTE NO.

Billboard Bill Goes to Georgia House Transportation Committee

March 24, 2009

It appears that if the move to give the billboard industry more power to cut down trees on public property is going to be stopped,  it will have been be stopped the same way a similar bill was stopped last year,  on the floor of the Georgia House of Representatives.  A spokesperson for Dorothy McDaniel of Trees Columbus, Inc., who attended today’s Georgia House transportation subcommittee meeting,  tells me that it voted 3 to 1 to send SB 164,  which easily passed in the Georgia Senate, on to the full Department of Transportation Committee,  where it expected to be approved and sent on to the floor of the House. 

Dorothy McDaniel,  Trees Columbus, Inc.

Dorothy McDaniel, Trees Columbus, Inc.

If you value trees and highway beautification more than the rights of billboard companies to cut trees on public property that block the viewing of billboards on private property,  then it would be a good idea to let members of the Georgia House know you want them to vote down this measure.   To get you local legislator’s email address just go to this Georgia House of Representative website.

The billboard industry already has the right to seek a permit to cut down trees on public property.  but the DOT can deny the permit.  If the new bill passes,  what was once a privilege will become a right.

How SB 164 Gives Billboard Companies More Power to Cut Publically Owned Trees

March 14, 2009

“Either you are unaware or you are deliberately trying to mislead your readers. Billboard companies have the right to cut these trees now,” Anna McLendon wrote in a comment on my post about the latest effort by billboard companies to obtain the right to cut trees on state and local governmental highway rights of way.  She is partially right, certainly, though, not about my deliberately misleading my readers.  I don’t do that.  The  unaware part is the part that’s partially right.  I didn’t know as much about the present law or the one that just passed the Senate as I should have.  She is wrong, however, in that the billboard companies now have the “right” to cut those trees.

In order to correct my shortcoming in understand the two laws,  I called former Columbus mayor and advertising executive Bob Hydrick, who is on the board of    Trees Columbus Inc.  Bob explained it this way:  “What the billboard people have now is the ‘privilege,’  not the ‘right’ to cut trees on public rights of way.  They have to get a permit from the state Department of Transportation commissioner.  If their request meets certain criteria,  he can grant permission to cut the trees,  but he can also deny their request.  The new law, the one passed by the Senate and is now in the House,  gives them the ‘right’ rather than the ‘privilege.’  They won’t have to get a permit from DOT any more.”

Now,  when a billboard company wants to put up a new billboard,  it has to wait five years before it can get a permit to cut vegitation on public property.  Being on private property,  it can put up the billboard,  but it can’t cut trees on public property for five years.  The new law ends that prohibition, also.

Also, Bob told me,  now, they simply cannot cut trees that were planted as part of beautification projects.  The DOT commissioner doesn’t have the authority to give a permit for that.  Under the new law,  that would also change.  They would have the right to cut trees planted as part of beautification projects.   There is a suit against the DOT pending on this one,  filed by  Trees Columbus, Inc., the Gateway Foundation, and the City of Columbus,  concerning the attempted cutting of trees planted as part of beautification projects on I-185 inside the Columbus City Limits.

I hope that clarifies what the Billboard industry is trying to accomplish with the new law, SB 164,  which passed in the Senate and is now in the Georgia House.  You can read the bill by going to this Georgia Senate link.  I haven’t changed my mind about how I feel about the law.  I don’t want beautification projects on public property destroyed to make it easier to see billboards.   I hope you will let your representative in the House know that you do not favor SB 164,  which expands the billboard industry’s power to cut down trees owned by taxpayers.

You can read MS McLendon’s complete comment, as well as those by others, by going to my previous post on the issue, “I Think I Shall Never See a Billboard as Lovely as a Tree.”