Cobb’s airspace could get a little more crowded by the end of 2020 under a settlement allowing a company to erect eight new billboards across the county.
The agreement concludes a lawsuit filed by Vision Outdoor Media against the county after the company submitted 22 sign applications in the spring of last year, all of which were denied by county staff. Appeals made to the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals were also denied, leading Vision to sue the county, claiming its sign regulations were unconstitutional, according to an April 29 consent order by U.S. District Judge Michael Brown.
Brown’s order spelled out the terms of the settlement, a copy of which was provided to the MDJ as the result of an open records request.
“The county just settled a lawsuit with a billboard company. I will tell you that more billboards are coming,” Commissioner Bob Ott told east Cobb residents attending a community meeting last week at the Sewell Mill Library. “The county has a moratorium right now while the county rewrites our code, but the code the way it was written flat-out prohibiting billboards, the county would have lost dramatically in court.”
Vision had asked for 26 billboards in all, Ott said. His District 2, which includes east Cobb and Cumberland, would have gotten about seven of them, he added, with possible locations on Johnson Ferry and Roswell roads as well as Cobb Parkway.
But under the settlement, Vision will only be able to construct, maintain, repair and/or replace eight new double-sided signs in specific areas of the county agreed to by the company and county. Each of the signs may be of the electronic, LED display variety that allows for advertisements to be changed every 10 seconds or longer, though the company is not required to install an LED sign for each billboard.
In exchange, Vision will pay the county $800,000 in impact fees in connection with the permits for the signs, with the $100,000 for each sign allocated to the sidewalk fund for the commission district where the sign will be located.
LED billboards would have to be made available to county law enforcement for emergency messages aimed at the general public, such as Amber Alerts or other emergency management information, according to the agreement. Unsold advertising slots on the LED signs would also have to be made available to the county for public service messages.
The billboard locations are:
♦ 2245 Roswell Road, northeast of Barnes Mill Road
♦ 1196 Ernest Barrett Parkway, northeast of Cobb Parkway
♦ 4070 Austell Road, just north of the East-West Connector
♦ The southeast corner of South Cobb Drive and the East-West Connector
♦ One of five possible locations near the intersection of Barrett Parkway and Dallas Highway
♦ Cobb Parkway between 500 feet north of Akers Mill Road and Paces Mill Road
♦ Along Highway 92 between Lindsey Way and Surrey Road
♦ 2996 Cumberland Blvd., just inside Interstate 285
Within the 2019 calendar year, Vision will be allowed to erect no more than four of the eight approved signs, with no more than one sign in each of the four county commission districts. The company will be allowed to install the remainder of the signs in 2020 or thereafter.