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Billboard issues bother Buckhead groups
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@neighbornewspapers.com
September 26, 2013 10:45 AM | 1956 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print

From behind a layer of glass or within 500 feet of a tree, billboards seem to be giving Buckhead leaders quite the headache recently.

During Tuesday’s Buckhead Community Improvement District board meeting at the Tower Place 100 building, Livable Buckhead Executive Director Denise Starling alerted the board to an issue that may grind the group’s streetscapes project to a halt and another she simply called a “tacky” addition to the community.

Starling said she was recently notified by the Georgia Department of Transportation it would be enforcing a 2010 state law that prevents trees from being planted within 500 feet of a billboard, rendering the streetscape plans for SPI-9 and SPI-12 impossible to complete.

Starling said she is in the process of applying to CBS Outdoor to be allowed to plant the trees but so far, the discussions have not led to approval.

Meanwhile, District 7 Atlanta City Councilman Howard Shook received full support by the rest of the council during its Sept. 16 meeting to sign a resolution to encourage the mayor and state leaders to find a solution.

Sally Silver, a representative from Shook’s office, said the rest of Atlanta needs to take notice of the problems presented by the state law.

“It’s not just a Buckhead issue,” she said. “We have streetscapes throughout the city that this will start affecting.”

Shook’s office is also continuing a fight against three digital billboards sitting on the top floor the Franco Building on the corner of Peachtree and East Paces Ferry roads behind two large panes of glass that span the length of the building.

The signs were originally installed under an interior renovation permit secured through the city that only cited the installation of internal signage. When it was discovered the construction was beyond the scope of the permit, Mayor Kasim Reed signed an executive order to remove the billboards, but questions arose as to whether the order is legally binding, Silver said.

As drivers can see from the road, the signs remain. Silver said the LED signage defies the intent of the zoning laws.

“It’s very obvious that you can now advertise whatever you want on these three billboards in Times Square Atlanta,” Silver said. “We are currently looking under every rock, but I think in the sign ordinance… it states that there can be no electronic signs. It does not differentiate between internal or external signs.”

Starling said Livable Buckhead is encouraging the city law department to “go after” the signs and Monumedia LLC, the company leasing the space. An email message to Monumedia was not immediately returned Thursday, and a phone number is not listed with the company, according to switchboard.com.

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