The city of Sandy Springs’ concerns over billboards continue.
“Prior to 2005 with the lack of (Fulton County) regulation regarding billboards, on Oct. 4, 2012, a consent agreement after a long-running lawsuit was reached,” City Attorney Dan Lee said of a legal battle the city had with billboard companies that dated back to soon after it incorporated in 2005. “The current ordinance does not allow any other new billboards.”
The city is considering raising the height of a digital/LED billboard on Carpenter Drive at 5793 Roswell Road that fronts Interstate 285 from 50 feet to 85 feet to pull the light it emits 24/7 away from the Laurel Grove condominiums and Comfort Inn hotel nearby. The light became a problem after recent development and tree removal exposed it to the condos and hotel.
Under the consent agreement, the city would allow the billboard to increase its height, but in return, Lamar Advertising, which owns the billboard, would give the city two other static, two-sided billboards located at 6390 and 8613 Roswell Road.
But when the decision came before a vote at the Sandy Springs City Council’s Feb. 4 meeting at City Springs, concerns over how the Georgia Department of Transportation’s plans to build express lanes along 285 and the impact the raised billboard might have on another residential community caused the council to vote 6-0 to defer the decision until its March 17 meeting.
“I think the pluses of this are well known,” said District 6 Councilman Andy Bauman, who brought up the issue at the Jan. 21 council meeting and motioned for the deferral Feb. 4. “I think we’ve quantified them as the improvement of the view and the removal of the light and the intrusion into the condos and hotel. We’re also removing two static billboards. That’s the whole process of the council meeting. I want to use these (next) six weeks to raise some questions and determine what the evidence is.”
Before the council’s vote, two residents spoke to raise concerns about the decision.
“The sound barrier wall under construction this very week on the Roswell Road exit ramp (at 285) will most likely block portions of the view of the billboard for northbound Roswell Road drivers,” said Ronda Smith, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods. “What the (billboard) company markets to advertisers as impressions will be lost.
“While only available as a GDOT visualization, could one assume at the present height, an additional portion of those merely 1 million weekly impressions for this LED billboard be lost once the flyover express lanes are completed? One can safely assume that GDOT would not show the billboard company any more mercy in its plans than those property owners slated to lose their homes or to be significantly negatively impacted under all the current roadway expansion plans.”
Bob Lepping, president of the Glenridge Hammond Neighborhood Association, the community that could be adversely affected by the raised billboard, said, “My questions would be can anyone predict with any accuracy if the light emanated or the line of sight would affect the south side of Glenridge Hammond? Number two, will it be seen? If any additional trees are taken by GDOT in its express lanes project, will it be even more visible? Are there any unintended consequences of the height?”
The deferral comes two and a half weeks after the city filed an emergency motion in Fulton County Superior Court to request the immediate removal of billboards owned by Outfront Media LLC located at 6215 Roswell Road, property the city already owns.
Sandy Springs plans to construct a temporary fire station at 6189 Roswell Road as it rebuilds 50-year-old Fire Station No. 2, located on Johnson Ferry Road.