Monday, May 16, 2011

Governor Deal Signs Bill Enhancing Beautification, Outdoor Advertising Projects in Georgia

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Governor Nathan Deal yesterday (May 12) announced he has signed House Bill 179, legislation that finally creates a common sense approach balancing the need for our community businesses to effectively promote themselves, while establishing stronger stewardship provisions than are in current law. In addition to the bill signing, the Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia (OAAG) is also proud to announce that member companies are donating hundreds of vinyl signs to be used as tarps to cover storm-damaged homes as well as space on billboards to inform residents of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and American Red Cross contact information.

“I am proud that we are doing our part to help our neighbors who were severely impacted by these devastating storms.”

Under the new law, vegetation removal will now be allowed in a smaller area in front of billboards allowing motorists to fully view advertising messages and bring new business to Georgia companies. The bill requires outdoor advertising companies to pay the highest mitigation fees in the country and fund the replacement and replanting of all vegetation that is removed.

“The previous law was very ineffective, leaving signs close to the ground obstructed from view behind trees and either abandoned or raised to skyscraper levels for visibility,” said Ray Moyers, President of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia (OAAG). “This compromise bill will lead to lower signs, more beautification projects and, most importantly, economic growth as Georgia small businesses reach new customers through advertising.”

In addition, the bill requires signs to be lowered to at least 75 feet as a condition for receiving relief from obstructions. It also ensures the industry fully funds the Georgia Department of Transportation’s administrative costs, relieving the burden from our state’s taxpayers.

For the first time in state law, House Bill 179 creates new provisions for the removal of abandoned, cluttered, and dilapidated signs at no cost to the taxpayer. And, the legislation emphasizes local control allowing local governments to determine billboard regulations in their community.

“Georgia’s network of outdoor advertising can be an incredible resource to help us market our community businesses, grow new jobs, and maintain our existing workforce, but only if the messages were visible to the traveling public,” said Rep. Jon Burns, sponsor of HB 179. “We worked hard over the past few months and fashioned a reasonable bill that achieves many of the goals sought after by both sides of this debate. I want to publicly thank Governor Deal for recognizing the benefits of the bill and signing it into law.”

Since the bill passed during this year’s legislative session, the outdoor advertising industry has continued to contribute heavily to Georgia’s economy and civic concerns. When tornados struck Georgia in late April, billboard companies immediately mobilized and donated over 500 vinyl signs that can be used as tarps to cover storm-damaged homes until repairs can be made.

The industry has also donated space on 75 electronic message boards in Georgia, including the hardest-hit storm areas of Rome, Griffin and Clayton. The messages inform residents on how to contact FEMA for storm-related assistance. There will also be two traditional (non-electronic) billboards in Trenton and Ringgold with FEMA contact information. The Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia is paying for the production of the vinyl signs and Fairway Outdoor Advertising of Chattanooga is donating the space for those two signs. Clear Channel is also featuring messages for the American Red Cross on more than 20 digital signs in the Metro Atlanta area.

“Our industry is made up of community-minded citizens that respond quickly when Georgians are in need,” Moyers added. “I am proud that we are doing our part to help our neighbors who were severely impacted by these devastating storms.”


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