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PTC urges veto for tree cutting bill

At its April 21 meeting, the Peachtree City Council voted unanimously to ask Gov. Nathan Deal to veto a bill that would give billboard owners free rein to cut down and trim trees on state-owned right of way.

House Bill 179 was passed by both sides of the legislature this year. Peachtree City Rep. Matt Ramsey voted against it, while Tyrone Sen. Ronnie Chance voted in favor.

The bill allows for an area as long as 350 feet from the edge of pavement to be cleared of trees on state-owned right of way, and 250 feet along the right of way fence or boundary.

Trees in those areas can also be trimmed, according to the bill.

The bill requires that any removed tree or vegetation be valued, and the billboard owner must either add landscaping equal to that value or if the landscaping value is lower, a payment to make up the difference.

Dead or diseased trees will not be calculated toward this valuation, according to the bill.

Furthermore, the bill requires that after July 1, “no beautification project in this state shall include the planting of trees in the right of way within 500 feet of an outdoor advertising sign such that the visibility of a permitted outdoor advertising sign is obscured or could be later obscured by the growth of such vegetation.

Proponents say that growing trees are starting to block some billboards, which advertise local businesses.

Opponents of the bill have argued that the state is “giving away” its assets in the form of trees to the billboard companies.

As for the support of the Peachtree City Council to veto the bill, Councilwoman Kim Learnard noted that a similar resolution was passed by Sandy Springs, and she thought Peachtree City could also jump on board.

The motion was adopted unanimously.

Similar to the affect tree growth has had on the billboard industry, it also is affecting one of Peachtree City’s most cherished annual events: the 4th of July fireworks. One prime viewing spot over the years has been the parking lot at McIntosh High School, but recently the growth of trees between there and Lake Peachtree have obscured quite a bit of the show.

But to date, no legislation in the city has been suggested to clear trees to improve views of the fireworks display.

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