AN ACT TO REVISE THE OUTDOOR ADVERTISING LAWS.
Amends GS 136-127, adding to the legislative policy declaration regarding outdoor advertising, establishing the importance of outdoor advertising in the national economy. Declares it in the public interest that outdoor advertising signs be erected, maintained, and clearly visible along State highways in order to provide public service announcements and information on services and products available to the general public, as specified. Explicitly recognizes the need to balance the needs of outdoor advertisers against the beautification of the State.
Amends GS 136-128, which sets forth defined terms applicable to Article 11, the Outdoor Advertising Act. Adds the terms area zoned commercial or industrial, customary use, main-traveled way or traveled way, on-premises/on-property sign, and sign location or site. Amends the definitions for erect or erection, nonconforming sign, State law, and unzoned commercial or industrial area.
Enacts GS 136-130.1, setting forth criteria for an area unzoned commercial or industrial, requiring one or more commercial or industrial activities to satisfy all nine criteria prior to submitting an outdoor advertising permit application to the Department of Transportation (Department), including the activity having all basic utilities, the activity being in active operation at least six months prior to the date of application submission, and the activity being open to the public at least 20 hours per week, as specified. In considering whether the nine criteria have been met, establishes certain considerations and measurement guidelines which must be used. Enumerates 10 activities which are not qualifying activities for an unzoned commercial or industrial area, including outdoor advertising structures, activities more than 660 feet from the nearest edge of the right-of-way, railroad tracks and minor sidings, and illegal and nonconforming junkyards.
Modifies GS 136-131 to authorize the Department to acquire by purchase, gift, or condemnation all outdoor advertising and all property rights pertaining to outdoor advertising in lawful existence or lawfully erected. Defines the scope of authority to include all acquisitions, purchases, condemnations, or takings by the Department that cause the removal of any lawfully erected outdoor advertising, regardless of the location and proximity of the outdoor advertising to the interstate or primary system (previously limited to nonconforming advertising under GS 136-129, GS 136-129.1, or GS 136-129.2). Makes conforming changes to refer to any acquisiton, purchase, condemnation, or taking (previously did not explicitly include taking). Lists nine factors which must be used in determining just compensation under the statute, including the sales price of similar outdoor advertising, the effect of land-use restrictions, and the reasonable expectations of lease renewal for a period in excess of that stated in the lease for original or renewal terms. Adds a new requirement for the Department to undertake the project necessitating the acquisition or taking under GS 133-11 prior to any acquisition or taking under the statute, including allowing the outdoor advertising to remain until actual construction or other physical site work is commenced on the project and within 100 feet of the outdoor advertising sign. Specifies that the statutes do not affect relocation assistance funding, which is in addition to any just compensation provided.
Amends GS 136-131.1, expanding the provisions to include just compensation for removal of outdoor advertising for which there is a valid permit issued by the Department pursuant to GS Chapter 11 and regulations thereunder (previously limited to outdoor advertising adjacent to a highway on the National System or a highway on the Federal aid Primary Highway System).
Enacts GS 136-131.3, requiring the relocation and reconstructing of any legally erected outdoor advertising that is caused to be moved due to State or local government agencies or other possessing eminent domain authority imposing eminent domain authority upon property on which the sign is located. Details six requirements for such relocation or reconstruction, such as requiring that the new site be any area within 660 feet of the nearest edge of a highway on the National System or the federal aid highway system within the same zoning jurisdiction or within the same city or county limits if the signs were located in an unzoned area, and requiring the construction for the relocation work to commence within one year after the later of the date of removal or the effective date of the Article. Generally allows for relocation of lawfully erected signs for which a permit has been issued by the Department, which do not qualify for relocation under the previous provisions, to relocate and reconstruct the sign subject to the same six requirements, except that the sign cannot be relocated more than 250 feet from the original lot boundaries on which the sign was previously erected. Provides special rules for signs legally existing but would not be conforming to customary use if relocated on the same sign location or site. Permits the removal of any vegetation to improve relocated sign visibility upon written consent of the landowner and a selective vegetation removal permit issued under the Article, as specified. Prohibits denial of a new site for relocation due to vegetation obstructing visibility, and prohibits cities or counties from enforcing conflicting regulations. Provides for preemption of all state political subdivisions' regulation or prohibition of the relocation of outdoor advertising. Applies to outdoor advertising signs removed on or after January 1, 2014.
Amends GS 136-133.1, which provides for a selective vegetation removal permit. Now provides for the maximum cut or removal zone for each sign face for the direction of travel for which the sign faces is oriented to not exceed a continuous 500 feet horizontal distance parallel to a State right-of-way and measured from a point on the main-traveled way of the highway nearest the sign face (previously provided parameters to establish five points in order to define the limits of the vegetation or removal cut area). Now requires (was, permits) the Department to approve plans for cutting, thinning, pruning, or removing vegetation outside of the cut or removal zone along acceleration or deceleration ramps so long as sign visibility will be imposed and the total aggregate of cutting or removal does not exceed the specified maximum allowed. Further, now requires the Department to approve plans for the cutting, thinning, pruning, or removal of vegetation along or within medians of the interstate or federal aid highway system so long as the view to the cross read face of the sign will be improved and the sign owner replaces the disturbed median area with low grade hardy shrubs at the sign owner's expense. Now qualifies the requirement for native dogwoods and redbuds to be preserved, requiring preservation only to the extent possible. Adds that a selective vegetation removal permittee can relocation and replace any native dogwoods or native redbuds existing within the cut or removal zone established under the statute to a location within 2,500 feet on either side of the outdoor advertising structure, as measured along the edge of the pavement of the main-traveled way of the nearest controlled route, but only if necessary. Requires the selective vegetation removal permittee to replace the native dogwoods or native redbuds with the same species and quantity as specified if preservation is not possible during relocation.
Amends GS 136-133.2 to allow permits to remove vegetation to be granted for outdoor advertising locations that have been permitted for one year (was, two years) prior to the date of application. Now also allows permits to remove vegetation to be granted for outdoor advertising locations, if relocated as allowed under law, and the outdoor advertising otherwise complies with the requirements of the statute and rules adopted by the Department. Makes conforming changes to GS 136-133.5
Provides a severability clause.
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