New Law in Asheville Allowing the Cutting of Trees around Billboards Causes Controversy

New Law in Asheville Allowing the Cutting of Trees around Billboards Causes Controversy



Western North Carolina environmental and beautification groups are observing anxiously a Georgia court case that recently prevented billboard owners to cut the trees that are blocking their signs.

A similar action is being considered by local groups against a new law in North Carolina.

Ryke Longest, the director of Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at the Duke University School of Law and who represents Scenic North Carolina, said, “The Garden Club of Georgia has been successful in getting a similar law deemed unconstitutional. Scenic North Carolina in considering all legal options, including possibly challenging the rules and the constitutionality of the statute itself”

A Georgia Superior Court Judge in January halted the implementation of a new law which permits owners of billboards to clear-cut trees that are blocking their outdoor signs. The law was then challenged by environmental groups, saying that the state could not constitutionally surrender its ownership of trees with nothing in return for residents of the state.

Senate Bill 183 in North Carolina, commonly referred to as the so-called “billboard bill,” which was introduced by Sen. Harry Brown, a Republican from Jones, permits the cutting of publicly owned trees by billboard owners to make their advertisements more visible. The law was signed by Gov. Bev Perdue last July.

Temporary rules were approved on January 19 by the Rules Review Commission, allowing tree-cutting to be expedited. The temporary rules will go into effect on March 1.

Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Republican from Transylvania, introduced amendments to the legislation, but these were removed in committee. He is now trying to push back on the new rules.