City makes billboard deal

The city of Charlotte has agreed to lease space for a billboard on Interstate 485 to Adams Outdoor Advertising, in exchange for cash, free advertising and a promise from the company not to cut down trees near a billboard along Independence Boulevard.

The city has been upset over a 2012 law passed by the General Assembly that gave billboard companies more leeway to cut down trees and other vegetation in front of their signs.

Billboard companies have removed more than 5,000 trees, according to city arborist Don McSween.

Adams has said the law was necessary because trees and other vegetation had grown and obscured their billboards.

But the two sides reached an agreement Monday. The city will allow Adams to build a digital billboard on the edge of the McAlpine Creek Wastewater treatment plant on property facing I-485 in south Charlotte.

In exchange, Adams will pay Charlotte $235,000 over 20 years.

The company also will remove two existing billboards along Albemarle Road; protect trees that could be cut down near a billboard on Independence Boulevard and Pecan Avenue; limit the pruning of trees at three other billboard sites on Albemarle Road; and provide $350,000 over 20 years worth of advertising for the city for public service announcements.

The agreement was approved by council members 9-2, with Patsy Kinsey and Claire Fallon voting no.

“I’m pleased some trees are being saved, but what happens if they are inadvertently cut?” Kinsey asked.

The city and Adams Outdoor general manager Kevin Madrzykowski both said the billboard on I-485 could be removed if the company removed protected trees.