Sunday, January 23, 2022

Billboard owners request the right to cut down trees obstructing views

In April, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 to not recommend the approval of the requested change since it conflicts with landscaping requirements in the city's Comprehensive Plan.

Billboard owner Fairway Outdoor Advertising has requested an amendment to Wilmington's Land Development Code to remove trees on public property if they obstruct the views of the billboard (Port City Daily photo/FILE)
Billboard owner Fairway Outdoor Advertising has requested an amendment to Wilmington’s Land Development Code to remove trees on public property if they obstruct the views of the billboard (Port City Daily photo/FILE)

WILMINGTON — Wilmington’s City Council will hold a public hearing Tuesday on whether to approve an amendment to the city’s Land Development Code that would allow the trimming or removal of trees on private property, as well as on city streets, to better provide unobstructed views of billboards.

This is not the first time the request is coming before city officials. In April, the Planning Commission voted 6-0 to not recommend the approval of the requested change. In May the issue was brought before the City Council, but it was continued until September.

The applicant is listed as Guy Williamson, a real estate manager for Fairway Outdoor Advertising.

Currently, the Land Development Code, “prohibits trimming of
vegetation on public property or the right-of-way (ROW) for the purpose of making any outdoor advertising sign/billboard more visible. This provision of the code has been in effect since at least 1987 when the Sign Regulations Ordinance was adopted,” according to city documents.

There are currently 60 billboards within the City of Wilmington, 59 of which are subject to state legislation that permits the cutting or clearing of vegetation on state rights-of-way to allow for an unobstructed view, City Manager Sterling Cheatham wrote in a document submitted to City Council. 

City staff recommends the denial of the amendment as it would not be consistent with the City of Wilmington Comprehensive Plan.

“Staff’s primary concern is that this code change directly conflicts with the landscaping requirements as outlined in Article 8 of the LDC and may contribute to increased violations of those requirements,” Cheatham said.

The public hearing will take place Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall.


Michael Praats can be reached via email at Michael.p@localvoicemedia.com

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