RALEIGH — A law passed last year that allowed billboard companies to cut more trees around their signs would be tempered under a bill that began moving in the General Assembly on Thursday. The proposal by Rep. Becky Carney, a Democrat from Charlotte, would return some control to local towns and cities.
Last year’s bill was amended to give local government the authority to regulate the signs, and the House overwhelmingly approved that version. But the Senate didn’t go along with the changes, and the local control provision was stripped out in a conference committee.
The proposed legislation would give local government a say in how vegetation is planted to replace trees that are removed.
A roadside beautification group, Scenic N.C., sued the state Department of Transportation earlier this year over its decision not to require billboard companies to replace trees if they remove more than 60 percent of them around a sign. The department had proposed requiring that, but backed down after opposition from the industry.
The N.C. League of Municipalities welcomes the new bill, which came as a surprise.
The proposal has been put into a pending Senate bill on another topic, SB428, so that it can be acted on in this short session. It was approved in the House Environment Committee, and is headed to the floor for a vote.