A roadside beautification organization filed suit today to stop new state rules that go into effect Thursday allowing billboard companies to expand clear-cutting without replacing trees.
Scenic N.C. is seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the recently approved temporary rules, which it contends violate the states Administrative Procedures Act.
The public was deprived of the opportunity to speak on these rules, which changed mid-stream at the request of the industry, said Reyn Bowman of Scenic N.C., which is part of a national organization.
Last year the General Assembly approved a bill expanding the cutting zone around billboards. It required the state Department of Transportation to come up with rules to implement it.
Initially, the department proposed requiring billboard companies to re-plant when they cut down more than 60 percent of the vegetation around a sign. But the department backed off in the face of strong opposition by the industry.
The temporary rules that go into effect Thursday do not require any re-planting, no matter how many trees are cut.