Bill Summary for S 183 (2011-2012)

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Summary date: 

Mar 2 2011

Bill Information:

View NCGA Bill Details2011-2012 Session
Senate Bill 183 (Public) Filed Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Intro. by Brown.

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Bill summary

Amends various provisions of GS Chapter 136 for purposes as indicated in the title.
Raises the fee for a vegetation removal permit from $200 to $400 per site and specifies that the fee is nonrefundable. Prohibits, except as specified in new GS 136-133.1(f), planting, cutting, trimming, removing, or pruning any tree, shrub, or underbrush in or on any right-of-way of a state road or highway without a written selective vegetation removal permit issued under proposed GS 136-133.2 and in accordance with the rules of the Department of Transportation (DOT). Requires that the owner of an outdoor advertising sign or of a business facility make the request for a permit for selective vegetation removal to the appropriate roadside environmental engineer in the Division of Highways office on a form required by the DOT. Provides that a permit may not be issued to provide visibility to on-premise signs. Provides that if the site is inside city limits, the municipality has 30 days to review and provide nonbinding comments on the application if the municipality has met certain requirements. Prohibits local governments from regulating removal of vegetation within the limits of interstate or primary highway rights-of-way by any permit holder or anyone otherwise authorized by the DOT.
Amends GS 136-129 to specify limitations and regulations of the erection of outdoor advertising devices. Provides that billboards outside city boundaries must be at least 500 feet apart and that fees under this section are limited to $150 for the initial fee and $90 for the annual renewal, with $30 of each fee to be used for highway beautification. Allows automatic changeable facing signs if specified conditions are met. Prohibits denial of electrical utility permits to an outdoor advertising sign for which a valid permit has been issued.
Enacts new GS 136-133.1 to specify the zone around billboards in which clearing is allowed. Defines an existing tree as one that is four inches or greater in diameter as measured six inches from the ground at the time that the outdoor advertising structure was erected. Provides limitations as to when existing trees may be removed. Provides an exception to permit the owner of an outdoor advertising sign or the owner’s designee to clear vegetation without a permit providing that the owner or owner’s designee is working only from the private property side of a controlled access fence with the landowner’s consent. Requires that native dogwoods and native rosebuds be preserved. Requires the applicant for a selective vegetation removal permit to submit a site plan showing any existing trees that the applicant is requesting to cut, thin, prune, or remove. Includes additional requirements that the applicant provide data identifying the species and size of the trees in the site plan. Provides circumstances under which the DOT may revoke an advertising permit for the removal or modification of vegetation.
Enacts new GS 136-133.2 to provide that permits to remove vegetation may only be granted for outdoor advertising locations that have been permitted for at least two years and at the discretion of the DOT. Requires the application for a permit to be decided within 30 days, with the DOT to specify in writing the reasons for denial. Sets out permissible bases for denial. Enacts new GS 136-133.3 to provide the procedure for appeal of the DOT’s denial of a permit for selective vegetation removal to the Secretary of Transportation, and provides for judicial review of a final agency decision.
Enacts new GS 136-133.4 and GS 136-133.5 to specify standards for clearing around billboards, methods of clearing and responsibility for damage. Provides that a willful failure to substantially comply with all the requirements specified in the selective vegetation removal permit results in (1) a five-year moratorium on clearing, (2) revocation of a billboard permit for violation of standards, (3) payment of investigative costs, and (4) forfeiture of applicable performance bond. GS 136-133.5 provides additional criteria for denial of a permit for proposed outdoor advertising.
The act is effective October 1, 2011, and applies to permits, applications, or renewals submitted on or after that date and to offenses occurring on or after that date.