The Georgia Department of Transportation said it will demolish billboards in the way of two new lanes it plans to construct on the west side of Interstate 75 for the managed lanes project sponsored by Governor Nathan Deal. The project is set to break ground in September in Cobb County, said Natalie Dale, the media and government liaison for the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Representatives from the advertising companies appeared before the council for a second time to ask the council to change the city’s sign ordinance, but a decision was pushed back another month. For a second time, Councilman Philip Goldstein, who chairs the committee, turned down serious discussion of the companies’ proposal Wednesday night and sent them away to gather more information about how the 12 signs would be affected.
“(The billboard companies) are seeking to revise the ordinance to be able to make some changes (to the billboards) without having to go through a variance request (with the city),” said Rusty Roth, the city’s zoning manager.
Demolishing the billboards would create an extra cost for the Georgia Department of Transportation and the companies, Roth said. So the companies offered to funnel the money they would save back into the city if it passes their proposal.
“The Department of Transportation is generally very agreeable and is able to reinvest some of these dollars that are being saved ... into the community that is taking steps to help them out,” said Scott Peters, an attorney representing CBS Outdoor, LLC and Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc.
The two other companies are Lamar Advertising Company and Fairway Outdoor Advertising.
Existing city code requires billboards along I-75 to be within 100 feet of the highway and no more than 70 feet high, Roth said.
Peters said the revisions to the city code would allow the companies to keep their signs standing. The companies would like to move seven signs, raise five signs and modify the catwalk of one sign.
“We’re not asking for a carte blanche to go out there and move a sign wherever,” Peters said.
Goldstein asked the companies to return to next month’s committee meeting on July 30 with photos detailing where the signs would be moved and how high they would be raised. Without this information, Goldstein said he wasn’t ready to discuss changing the city’s sign ordinance.
“I’m not yet there at changing the ordinance, but if I get there, it’s going to be to keep (the ordinance) very narrow,” Goldstein said.
In the past, Roth said, the council has taken advantage of opportunities to get rid of billboards.
“This could be seen by some as a chance to reduce the number of billboards,” Roth said.
Councilman Stuart Fleming, who is on the committee, said he didn’t see the point of dragging out the conversation.
“If we don’t grant them, what are we really trying to do? Get rid of them?” Fleming said.
Fleming said he thinks the council should deal with each of the requests individually through variance requests.
Councilman Grif Chalfant suggested the city make a trade with the companies in the interest of reducing the total number of billboards on the highway.
“We’ll let you raise one up if you take one down — how’s that?” Chalfant said to Peters.