North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, has vetoed a polarizing, proposed bill that would have allowed billboard owners to override local regulations to move and upgrade their signs.
House Bill 645 would have enabled companies to both relocate as well as preserve their billboards when the underlying property is either taken through eminent domain by the government or when the landowner decides that he or she no longer wants it there. According to the bill, local governments would be prevented from blocking companies to do so, so long as the owners complied with zoning restrictions and other conditions as stated in the bill. The bill would have also allowed for trees to be cut down in the public right-of-way if they block the view of the relocated sign.
Environment Plays a Factor
This allowance for chopping down trees blocking relocated signs was a main driving force in Cooper’s decision to veto the bill. “Protecting the beauty and environment of North Carolina should be a top priority, but this legislation authorizes cutting down trees and other clearing work along roadways without the consent of nearby communities. Local governments should have more of a say in where their communities allow billboards,” he said.
The billboard industry argued that the bill was necessary in order for it to survive. In fact, the N.C. Outdoor Advertising Association reports that the throughout the state the industry has lost approximately 1,000 billboards over the last decade – mostly due to the restrictions of moving them. The bill had been amended multiple times in the House and the Senate over several months. However, environmental groups have objected, arguing that the bill would allow for thousands of billboards to be converted to digital displays.
It remains unclear as to whether or not the bill’s supporters could gain enough votes in the General Assembly necessary to override the governor’s veto.
The Attorneys at Henson Fuerst Can Help Those Facing Eminent Domain
The North Carolina land condemnation attorneys at Henson Fuerst regularly represent property owners who have billboards on property that will be displaced by eminent domain and fight for what serves the residents of North Carolina best. To learn more about your rights pertaining to eminent domain or land condemnation, or to schedule a free consultation, call us at 919-781-1107.