Just what we all wanted right?
Tomorrow, the house will be voting on SB 164 which would as summarized by the Georgia Environmental Action Network, do the following:
- Eliminate a 5 year waiting period between the time a billboard is erected and when a billboard company can receive a permit to trim or remove trees. The waiting period has been part of law for more than a decade to help ensure no permits are issued for the purpose of creating new billboards.
- Erase the current system where DOT permit fees are based upon the value of the vegetation being removed in front of a billboard in favor of a fee of $4500 minus the cost to the billboard company of purchasing, installing and maintaining replacement landscaping. This could result in less revenue for the Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Fund.
- Put trees planted as part of beautification projects at risk of being cut down to maximize billboard visibility if they were planted after January 1, 2009.
- Allow the removal of hardwood trees more than 8 inches in diameter and nonhardwood trees having a diameter of more than 12 inches.
- Phase in the expanded tree cutting provisions over three years rather than setting up a pilot program with a sunset date to allow for an analysis of its effectiveness.
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