MATTHEWS, N.C. -- The Town of Matthews is opposed to two proposed bills which have been introduced into the General Assembly which would erode local government authority and negatively impact the Town of Matthews and the state.
Senate Bill 183 would allow billboards along interstate highways (I-485, I-77, I-85, etc.) and federally assisted roads such as U.S. 74, N.C. 49 and N.C. 521 in Mecklenburg County to be converted to electronic ones and for new electronic billboards to be installed along these roadways. The bill would also allow trees, shrubs and other vegetation to be cut in order for the billboards to be more visible. The bill would allow the digital message to change every 8 seconds and allow 7 electronic billboards per mile. The bill would take away the authority local governments have to regulate this type of signage.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Harry Brown and Senator Bob Rucho who have stated that the billboards will create jobs because people will see the messages on the billboards and shop and visit the places advertised on the billboards, thus job creation.
Groups who are opposed to the bill include: the North Carolina League of Municipalities, the Association of County Commissioners, the Sierra Club, the Metro Mayors Coalition and the N.C. Planning Association.
Senate Bill 294 specifically targets the Town of Matthews and the Town’s right to regulate the removal of trees. Currently the Town of Matthews may adopt ordinances, after holding public hearings, to regulate the removal of trees from public and private property within the town in order to preserve, protect and enhance the one of the most valuable natural resources of the community and to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens.
Senate Bill 294 would specifically revoke the Town of Matthews’ right to protect trees in our community and allow the authority of regulation to be given to N.C. Forestry officials. The bill only targets the authority of Matthews although the City of Charlotte and the New Hanover County and its municipalities have this same authority to regulate the removal of trees. The bill is sponsored by Senator Tommy Tucker.
“We are opposed to both pieces of legislation because both bills undermine our efforts to preserve our tree canopy. To allow seven electronic billboards per mile along our interstates and highways and to remove our tree canopy to allow for more visibility seems extremely reckless from a driving safety perspective and detrimental to our environment. North Carolina is known for its beautiful roadways and to destroy them in favor of placing billboards is ridiculous,” said Matthew Mayor Jim Taylor. “Both bills take away the rights of the Town of Matthews to regulate billboards and our tree canopy. We have worked hard to preserve trees as much as we can under federal and state regulations. We do not want to see our local authority eroded and the result be an ugly vista of billboards and no trees. We hope you will contact your state legislators and let them know you are opposed to this legislation.”