Watch out for that tree...

For the fourth year in a row, billboard companies want to cut down more trees along North Carolina’s roadsides. This year it’s even worse. A measure before the General Assembly would allow tree-cutting around not just billboards, but all businesses along highways and main roads through our communities.

Currently, local governments and communities have veto power on these types of requests. If HB 1583 becomes law, towns lose that right.

Here's what the bill does:

  1. Allows billboard companies to increase the area in front of billboards from which trees could be cut by at least 30%.

  2. Roadside businesses would be allowed to cut trees from the public right-of-way; up to 1000 line feet of roadside footage. Language in the bill says thinning should be kept to 20% --but that is 20% of whatever is left from the last cut. Over time, adjacent businesses could theoretically cut a serial swath along a road.

  3. For the first time, tree-cutting would be allowed on main arteries through communities, or so-called primary roads that do not receive federal support. In addition to highways, this bill would allow tree cutting along well-known community arteries like Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh and Durham's Gregson/Duke Streets.

  4. Local governments lose veto power. Current rules require that state vegetation removal defer to local ordinances, but such language is missing in this bill.

Of course, we hope you contact your representative.

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