Cities and counties may keep their authority to say where billboards go after the state House rejected legislation that would have helped sign companies.
The bill would have allowed roadside signs in the way of highway improvements to relocate to other industrial or commercial areas of a city, even if the city didn’t want them in the new spot.
The billboard companies would have been able to upgrade their signs from static ads to digital signs that can flash more than one advertisement.
Rules Chairman David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican and an influential lawmaker, championed the bill.
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It failed by a wide 49-66 margin Monday night. Lewis said he would not try to bring it back.
“The League of Municipalities won,” he said. “I’ll try to help them in the future.”
The N.C. League of Municipalities opposed the bill, saying cities and towns should decide billboard locations.
“The overwhelming majority of members of the House, representing both political parties, recognized tonight that successful economic development depends on the unique visions of local residents as represented by local elected officials,” League spokesman Scott Mooneyham said in a statement. “A one-size-fits-all solution regarding billboards clearly has the potential to disrupt those local visions, whether tourism towns generating commerce based on taking advantage of local natural resources or large cities seeking to lure major corporations based on amenities and aesthetics that help to establish a great quality of life for residents.”
House members who opposed the bill objected to overriding local wishes, losing trees, the billboards’ size, and digital upgrades.
Some lawmakers said the bill favored big companies over small ones that would not be able to afford the switch to digital ads.
Rep. Jay Adams, Hickory Republican, called the bill “crony capitalism,” using government “to preserve an obsolete business.”