Cities and counties would lose some of their control over where billboards can go under a proposal that backers say will be fairer to sign companies.
The bill that won approval in the House Regulatory Reform Committee on Wednesday represents the latest chapter in a battle over roadside ads involving money, aesthetics, the environment, and government rules.
Billboard companies are sometimes required to remove signs to make way for road improvements. When the companies try for new locations, local governments won’t let the billboards go back up, said Rep. David Lewis, the bill sponsor and chairman of the powerful House Rules Committee.
It’s “an unfair taking of private property without just compensation,” said Lewis, a Harnett County Republican.
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The state Department of Transportation, which opposed an earlier version of the bill, is now neutral. The revised proposal deletes provisions that would have increased the state’s payments to billboard companies for signs displaced for roadwork.
The NC League of Municipalities and conservation groups continue to oppose the bill, which would allow billboards that must be moved to be rebuilt in commercial or industrial areas in the same city.
Ryke Longest, a member of the Scenic America and Scenic North Carolina boards of directors and a clinical professor of law at Duke University, said billboards would be allowed in some places where they are now prohibited.