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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bill Would Change Fulton Deal with Bilboard Firms

By DOUG NURSEThe Atlanta Journal-Constitution www.ajc.com

Two state legislators from north Fulton County on Thursday proposed a bill that would undo a key part of a proposed court settlement between the county and billboard companies.
The bill, sponsored by state Reps. Jan Jones (R-Milton) and Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek), is intended to help several north Fulton cities faced with the erection of 70 billboards on their busiest roads.

"I feel strongly about this," Jones said to Milton City Council members. "I heard from everyone on the City Council, and the mayor, and you all feel strongly about it. I think it's a violation of local control."

The legislation would prohibit counties or cities from backdating such things as permits for signs, buildings or plats in areas that are no longer part of the original county or city.
Fulton County on Dec. 5 authorized a proposed court settlement with several billboard companies that would backdate permits for signs the county had denied under a sign ordinance the state Supreme Court subsequently found to be unconstitutional.

The County Commission approved the agreement rather than face paying more than $6.6 million in lost potential revenue to the companies. The new billboards would go into formerly unincorporated areas that are now the cities of Johns Creek, Milton, Sandy Springs and Alpharetta.

City officials have filed motions to be included in the court proceedings so they can argue that backdating permits is wrong, especially in areas no longer under Fulton's sign ordinance.

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