RE: Update on Senate Bill 256 - waiting until Monday
Trees Columbus wrote:
>SB 256, the tree-cutting for billboards bill, passed the Senate
>Transportation Committee yesterday. Trees Columbus testified in
>to the bill along with representatives of The Garden Club of Georgia
>Georgia Conservancy. On the bright side, the senators are aware that
>is statewide opposition to SB 256, but it wasn't quite enough to stop
>bill in committee. The bill must be voted on by adjournment on Tuesday
>it cannot "cross over " to the House. We won't know until Monday if the
>will be on the Tuesday agenda.
>What happens now? Now we wait patiently until Monday afternoon to find
>if the bill will make it to the floor of the Senate for a vote on
>Timing is important. We want our advocacy to be concentrated and clear
>necessary -- BUT we would be happy to leave the senators alone if the
>doesn't make it to the Tuesday agenda.
>IF we find out on Monday that the bill will be up for a Tuesday vote, we
>will send out an emergency alert providing y'all with the opportunity to
>send every senator a courteous and concise e-mail encouraging him or
>vote "no" on SB 256. We will supply you with sample talking points and
>e-mail addresses of every senator. You can simply cut and paste those
>addresses into the address line of your e-mail and send your message to
>everyone at once if you like.
>Once again, thank you for your interest in this issue, and let us know
>you have any questions.
>Dorothy McDaniel, Trees Columbus
>See below for an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article on SB 256 and
>Bill 1318, a bill related to billboards and local zoning ordinances.
> <http://www.ajc.com/> ajc.com >
>Billboard bills could override local zoning
>By Ariel Hart
>The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
>Published on: 03/06/08
>If Georgia lawmakers approve a pair of billboard measures, opponents
>signs could sprout in neighborhoods not zoned for them, and state-owned
>trees could be clear-cut in front of the roadside signs.
>Billboard companies say they're only asking for what's fair: just
>compensation if they have to move a sign, and signs that drivers can see
>On Tuesday and Wednesday the two bills passed in committee.
>The tree bill (SB 256) has a history in Georgia. The other billboard
>(HB 1318) is similar to one that passed in Florida, to the
>local governments there.
>The sponsor of HB 1318, Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta), called it "just a
>private property bill" to compensate sign owners and sign landlords
>by zoning rules, language echoed by billboard lobbyist Vernon Lee.
>"It's a good bill; it's a good property rights bill," Lee said.
>On its face, the bill would ensure that billboard owners are compensated
>when they have to move or remove their signs from land that is being
>or developed. If local zoning rules are intended to phase out
>prevent rebuilding the same size sign, the bill would put the burden of
>compensation on that local government.
>Lawyers representing cities and counties said billboard owners are
>compensated under current law, and the real effect of the bill is to
>local governments' ability to regulate signs.
>Under the bill, they said, if the state takes down a billboard to widen
>road, and local zoning rules call for the sign to be rebuilt at a
>less lucrative size, the local government, not the state road project,
>have to compensate the billboard owner and the billboard landlord. The
>amount they'd have to pay would include all future revenue from
>contracting for the sign.
>The sums could be so staggering to local budgets that the bill would
>essentially make restricting those billboards too expensive.
>"It's punishing local governments for having good zoning laws," said
>Brinton, a Florida lawyer who fought that state's version of the law.
>basically overrides local zoning decisions and hijacks local control to
>elevate a special interest over the public's interest."
>Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens said in an interview about the
>bill, "I'm not building the road, the state is."
>In Cobb, if the bill passes, a state project to widen I-75 could put the
>county and the city of Marietta on the hook for $4.5 million to $75
>in billboard costs.
>"The state of Georgia General Assembly is doing a good job of trying to
>bankrupt local governments," Olens said.
>Olens said if a road project takes down a sign, the county should let
>sign move to a similar spot, but that the county still should be able
>The bill had overwhelming support in the House Transportation Committee
>Tuesday, where members said it seemed fair.
>Some of them questioned using zoning for beautification. "Explain to me
>visual blight is," Rep. Tom McCall (R-Elberton) said to a city advocate.
>When the advocate suggested that "We-Bare-All" entertainment
>were visual blight, McCall countered, "That's not visual blight to the
>that owns the billboard or the fellow that's paying to go to the
>Two years ago McCall sponsored another bill to make it easier to cut
>in front of billboards. A variation of that bill passed the Senate
>Transportation Committee on Wednesday.
>It sets the price the billboard company pays the state for trees it
>the timber value as decided by appraisers chosen by the billboard
>The tree issue drew the state into years of litigation, during which the
>state lifted a billboard height limit.
>Under the current tree bill, billboard owners would build new signs
>and would get the right to clear-cut in front of them.
>THE STORY SO FAR
>> Previously: The state spent a decade fighting tree advocates over
>billboard owners who wanted to cut trees in front of their signs without
>writing big checks. The billboard companies compromised with tree
>but tree advocates say that proposals to make tree-cutting cheaper
>> The latest: A tree bill, SB 256, and a bill about zoning, HB 1318, both
>passed a committee vote.
>> What's next: The bills will each have to pass a floor vote by
>day," scheduled to be Tuesday, to proceed to the other house.
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