As you drive around our city, I am sure you have taken notice of new billboards beginning to pop up. As a matter of history, this issue predates Johns Creek as an incorporated city. Originally, a number of billboard companies applied to Fulton County for 75 billboard sign permits and each were denied. The companies then began the process of suing Fulton County for the right to erect billboards. Johns Creek joined the lawsuit after it was incorporated in 2006. The lawsuit was resolved by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2011 with the finding that the Fulton County sign ordinance was unconstitutional and that the billboard companies were entitled to erect up to 75 billboards, including 31 billboards at 27 locations within Johns Creek.
In order to mitigate the impact of 31 billboards, Johns Creek negotiated an agreement with the billboard companies to erect only 10 billboards in 10 locations. Five of the 10 allowable billboards have been erected with two more in various stages of the construction process. Once those two are erected, we anticipate that the billboard companies will move forward with adding the remaining three.
The City is not in a position to appeal the ruling since the Georgia Supreme Court is the final authority in the state. We did our best to limit the number of billboards and to space them out throughout the city so that the majority were placed on the outer edges of our city to have the least impact on our residential community.
Nine of the billboards will be LED while one will be static. We understand that studies show that LED lights actually distract young drivers less than older drivers. However, to minimize potential distractions, the settlement agreement prohibits LED billboards from flashing, moving, or sparkling. The LED lights also will automatically dim as night comes.
We are also going to keep a close eye on the types of advertising that is displayed. The city will notify the billboard company if it identifies any advertisement that is not in compliance. Advertisers have agreed that no sign will be utilized to post messages advertising adult entertainment establishments, adult video or book stores, or similar businesses; abortion services; any activity or product that is illegal under Georgia or federal law; any material which is obscene as such term is defined in Georgia statute; pawn shops; hookah bars; payday loan businesses; and advertising that promotes terrorist activities or groups.
Please do not hesitate to report any potential violations to Code Enforcement at City Hall and we will immediately address any issue.
Again, I share in your frustration over this ruling and we have tried to do all we can to minimize the impact on our city.
We have made a significant amount of information regarding this issue front and center on our website and interior pages and will continue to keep the city up-to-date as the remainder of the billboards are constructed around town through the City’s website