Ga. House kills billboard bill

The House battled back and forth Tuesday over a bill to compensate billboard owners when local governments require them to move or remove their signs, before eventually killing it.

The House voted 89-77 against House Bill 1318, reconsidered their vote, then voted 91-74 in a final vote against the bill.

The bill was heavily opposed by the Garden Club of Georgia, whose members lobbied against it all morning.

Rep. Matt Dollar, R-Marietta, sponsored the bill and said that billboard owners sometimes must lose their signs in order to obtain a building permit or rezoning. The bill would require the local government to compensate them for the value of the sign in such cases.

â??This bill is being brought to protect private property owners,â?? Dollar said.

Rep. Wendell Willard, R-Sandy Springs, said the bill created a special status for billboard owners, since other types of property use are affected by rezoning and permitting without compensation. He offered an amendment, which passed 93-69, that largely gutted the bill.

â??Here in Georgia, we already have a good balance between public interests and private property rights,â?? said Willard, an attorney who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

During the debate, Dollar, a real estate developer, had difficulty explaining technical aspects of the bill, which he said was modeled after one passed in Florida. At one point, he offered to research the answer to a question after the vote.