ProtectGeorgia.net
  www.protectgeorgia.net Wednesday, April 16, 2014  

Critical Vote Tomorrow on Billboards Bill

You can take action on this alert by reading the information below and following the directions at the bottom.

Issue

Yesterday, a House Transportation subcommittee passed Senate Bill 164, legislation that expands the ability of billboard companies to cut down trees along Georgia highways.

Background

The full House Transportation Committee is scheduled to hear and vote on this bill tomorrow.

As currently written, this bill would:
-Eliminate a 5 year waiting period between the time a billboard is erected and when a billboard company can receive a permit to trim or remove trees. The waiting period has been part of law for more than a decade to help ensure no permits are issued for the purpose of creating new billboards.
-Erase the current valuation system where DOT permit fees are based upon the value of the vegetation being removed in front of a billboard in favor of a fee of $4500 minus the cost to the billboard company of purchasing, installing and maintaining replacement landscaping. This could result in less revenue for the Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Fund.
-Put trees planted as part of beautification projects at risk of being cut down to maximize billboard visibility if they were planted after January 1, 2009.
-Allow the removal of hardwood trees more than 8 inches in diameter and nonhardwood trees having a diameter of more than 12 inches.
-Phase in the expanded tree cutting provisions over three years rather than setting up a pilot program with a sunset date to allow for an analysis of its effectiveness.


Act now to tell your state representative, one of 36 members of the House Transportation Committee, to amend the bill or vote NO on Senate Bill 164 to protect trees along Georgia's highways. The state should not grant a "right to be seen" to billboards at the expense of trees, taxpayers and scenic beauty.

Message To Be Sent To
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Your State Representative
Message
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Keep Our Highways Safe and Scenic


Dear Representative,
As a constituent who cares, I am writing in opposition to SB 164 as currently written, legislation that expands billboard companies ability to cut down trees along Georgia rights of way.

I am concerned that the bill as currently written would:
-Eliminate a 5 year waiting period between the time a billboard is erected and when a billboard company can receive a permit to trim or remove trees. The waiting period has been part of law for more than a decade to help ensure no permits are issued for the purpose of creating new billboards.
-Erase the current valuation system where DOT permit fees are based upon the value of the vegetation being removed in front of a billboard in favor of a fee of $4500 minus the cost to the billboard company of purchasing, installing and maintaining replacement landscaping. This could result in less revenue for the Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Fund.
-Put trees planted as part of beautification projects at risk of being cut down to maximize billboard visibility if they were planted after January 1, 2009.
-Allow the removal of hardwood trees more than 8 inches in diameter and nonhardwood trees having a diameter of more than 12 inches.
-Phase in the expanded tree cutting provisions over three years rather than setting up a pilot program with a sunset date to allow for an analysis of its effectiveness.

If these problems are not fixed, I urge you to vote NO on SB 164. The state should not grant a "right to be seen" to billboards at the expense of trees, taxpayers and scenic beauty.

Sincerely,

Your name and address here


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