by: Craig Lucie Updated:
SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - Residents of a Sandy Springs condo say a new LED billboard is so bright that it's keeping them up at night.
The billboard company, Boardworks, got a permit to cut down trees that separate the Laurel Grove condos from Interstate 285 so drivers could see the billboard more easily.
Now residents say they have no sound barrier and they are totally exposed to the traffic noise of 285.
"It keeps people awake at night," said condo owner Frances Hinson.
Another resident said the billboard used to be shorter and just be a permanent sign.
"It comes in his kitchen window and bounces off his wall so every few seconds he has a different color on his white walls,"
said Karen Rhine.
The bright light was their first complaint about the Boardworks billboard at the Roswell Road exit off I-285, but then tree crews came in and chopped down every tree between their condos.
Channel 2's Craig Lucie asked residents what explanation they were given from tree crews as they were chopping the vegetation down.
"They told us for a better view of the billboard"
Frances Hinson says some residents are extremely frustrated.
"It's ruined the quality of life for people that live close to here and made life unpleasant for a lot of people," said Hinson.
Lucie contacted Boardworks and their spokesman, Conner Poe, who is the executive director of the Outdoor Advertising Association of Georgia, sent him a statement saying:
"The owner of the sign in question performed all work on state owned right of way under a legally issued GDOT permit. Mitigation for this vegetation removal has been paid to the state for future roadside beautification. From its first day in operation, this legally permitted multi-message sign has and will continue to operate under all state approved rules & regulations. The sign owner looks forward to communicating & working with the HOA on any concerns they may have."
Lucie also got a copy of the permit from GDOT and found out it was costly for Boardworks to take the trees down.
"They said they were paying the DOT to take the trees down," said Rhine.
A GDOT spokesman told Lucie:
"Per law (O.C.G.A. Sections 32-6-75.1—32-6-75.3), GDOT is required to administer a vegetation removal program in front of outdoor advertising signs. Vegetation Management (VM) is allowed for legally erected conforming and non-conforming outdoor advertising signs that were permitted or assigned a working number through the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) prior to Dec. 31, 2010. All other GDOT permitted signs qualify once they have been permitted for a period of five (5) years or more.
Additional information on vegetation management can be found on GDOT's webpage at: http://www.dot.ga.gov/doingbusiness/permits/vegetation/Pages/default.aspx
"The revenue from this permit program provides funding for GATEway Grants. These grants are used for landscape plant material and its installation for the furtherance of roadside enhancement and beautification projects along state routes in Georgia. In 2008, Sandy Springs was awarded a GATEway Grant in the amount of $24,880, paid for by the revenue from vegetation management permits.
"Also, our permit allows them to cut vegetation on our Right-of-Way only. This billboard is on private property, so, our permit allows the vegetation to be cut on our (GDOT) property, not private property. Any encroachment on to private property would be between the property owner and the billboard company."
Residents showed Lucie where crews did cut down large limbs from trees on their property.
They met with their HOA Tuesday night and say they are not ruling out legal action.