Blocking Out the Scenery


It’s part of an old song about “signs” — and it’s an old story at the North Carolina General Assembly. Billboard companies are using their money-fueled connections to rig state law in their favor.

The billboard lobby is pushing another bad bill to tear down trees, as well as local rules that protect those trees and keep signs from getting in your face. House Bill 645 is up for final votes in the House and Senate this week.

Critics have called HB 645 a “wish list” of state law changes pursued by the billboard lobby. They include expanding billboard owners’ ability to demand compensation from local governments for rules restricting their signs, demand that trees obscuring their signs be cut even on public property, and the right to convert their signs to flashing or automatically changing formats without restriction. 

Under HB 645 as amended by the Senate, flashing billboards could distract drivers and jeopardize their safety. As for green scenery? Boring. And local governments which speak for citizens who want their community roadways to not become a blinking, flashing mess? Forget about your rights — the “rights” of the billboard industry are more important. 

The House was set to vote on the Senate’s amended version of the bill last week, but it was later withdrawn, and the vote rescheduled for August 6. That’s a good sign that the changes may lack the votes to pass the House. 

NCLCV urges House members to vote NO on HB 645, in order to “safeguard the natural environment, local decision-making authority, and driver safety in our state.”

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