Cobb County commissioners have settled a lawsuit with a company that will allow eight new billboards to be installed around the county. 
Photo: Sandra Parrish
Photo: Sandra Parrish

Cobb approves billboard settlement agreement

Cobb County has settled a lawsuit with a company that will allow more billboards to be installed around the county.

The settlement agreement, signed April 29 by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Brown, was approved by Cobb County commissioners in April and spells out the eight locations where Vision Outdoor Media LLC can place double-sided LED billboards.

Those locations are: 2245 Roswell Road, Marietta; 1196 Barrett Parkway, Kennesaw; 4070 Austell Road, Austell; the southeast corner of South Cobb Drive and East-West Connector; 2996 Cumberland Boulevard, Atlanta; Cobb Parkway between Akers Mill and Paces Mill roads; and Highway 92 between Linsdey Way and Surrey Road near the Fulton County border.

Vision also has the option to install a billboard at either 3442 Barrett Parkway, 2480 Dallas Highway, 2505 Dallas Highway, 2283 Dallas Highway, or 365 Villa Rica Way in Marietta.

Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt said the county got a good deal in the settlement, considering Vision Outdoor Media originally submitted applications to install 22 billboards around Cobb.

“We’re pretty happy with the way this came out,” Cavitt said.

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Each billboard height will not exceed 60 feet above road grade and won’t be allowed to extend over the right-of-way line. The billboard messages will be allowed to change every 10 seconds, and any unused advertising space will be made available to Cobb County for emergency uses and public service announcements.

Vision Outdoor Media will erect no more than four signs in 2019. The remaining four billboards can be installed as early as 2020. In turn, Vision will have to pay $800,000 in impact fees to the county, which will be deposited into the sidewalk fund.

Between March and May 2018, Vision submitted 22 sign applications for billboards to the county. County staff rejected the applications, and Vision appealed the case to the Board of Zoning Appeals. The BZA also denied the applications, and Vision appealed to Cobb County Superior Court in October 2018. It also filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleging the county’s sign ordinance was unconstitutional.

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Cavitt said the county, which placed a moratorium on billboard signs in September 2018, is in the midst of amending its code to provide guidance on billboards.

County Commission Chairman Mike Boyce said he isn’t unhappy with the settlement because the county will get revenue from the new billboards. He said both parties started out on one end of the spectrum and met in the middle to find a compromise that was best for both parties.

Commissioner Lisa Cupid said the county chose to settle the case since there was a risk that Cobb could have become home to nearly two dozen billboards instead of eight.

“There could have been a lot more signs … in places that are less desirable,” she said.

Commissioner Jo Ann Birrell agreed, adding that her and Bob Ott’s district will receive the most billboards at three each.

“If we have to have eight, that’s better than 22 locations countywide,” she said.

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