Backlash has been strong against a new N.C. billboard law that could cost the state tens of thousands of trees. The 2011 law, which went into effect March 1, allows for a wider swath of trees to be cut around billboards, and it transfers control over the trees from cities and town to the N.C. Department of Transportation. It was written with help from the outdoor advertising industry.
We've said the law is a bad idea and encouraged lawmakers and N.C. DOT to find a better balance between business, beauty and local control as they work through the process of making permanent rules for the law's application.
The Observer reported last week that Charlotte's Adams Outdoor has submitted 21 applications with the state to remove hundreds of trees in the city. Kevin Madrzykowski, General Manager of Charlotte's Adams Outdoor Advertising, responds to criticism of the law in an op-ed that will appear in tomorrow's print Observer.
It is the responsibility of legislators, especially in challenged economic times, to support legislation that fosters economic development and job creation, at the same time balancing the impact such legislation has on the environment, quality of life, and a constructive business climate. It’s also their responsibility to intervene when overly restrictive regulations threaten to put people out of work and an industry out of business. That is exactly the situation the Outdoor Advertising Industry finds itself.
When our signs were permitted and built, clear visibility existed. That is no longer the case as subsequent vegetation removal regulations have been put into effect by municipalities and the NCDOT. Until SB183, which only pertains to NCDOT Right of Way, the industry and Adams were required to conform to both municipality and NCDOT regulations. This duality created an environment where we could not maintain our assets properly.
As the Charlotte arborist acknowledged, contradiction existed between State and city regulation resulting in a scenario where we could remove little to no vegetation on property under NCDOT’s jurisdiction. These are vegetation concerns that did not exist when the billboards were originally constructed.
For a business that survives by providing advertisers exposure on high-trafficked roadways, visibility is a must. It’s not a stretch to construe this contradiction as a means to put us out of business. With record levels of unemployment, putting additional jobs at risk is criminal.
Who is Adams Outdoor? Adams is the premier provider of outdoor advertising in Charlotte, locally headquartered and employs over 65 people; Adams is our livelihood.
Adams also partners with over 715 landowners from whom we lease property. These property owners rely on income from the billboard structures to pay their bills, support their families . . . . and enjoy their basic property rights.
Further, Adams works with more than 470 advertisers striving to grow their businesses and achieve the best return for their advertising dollar. For many outdoor advertising is the foundation of their media strategy and integral to driving potential customers to their business.
Finally, Adams is privileged to annually contribute over $1.5 million in advertising space to local non-profit organizations, community interest causes, schools, and municipalities. Additionally, many employees have selflessly donated their time volunteering with these organizations. We do this because it’s the right thing to do.
This legislation is not about trees vs. billboards. It’s not about pushing the envelope in regard to the environment and asking for extremes. In fact, it’s not even about protecting visibility that existed when the billboards were first constructed. This legislation is about doing what is fair, right and reasonable, rather than requiring that a legitimate, viable, giving company go out of business.
It is about supporting a business that cares deeply for this community so that it can continue to exist and do good.
Adams Outdoor Advertising