The city will allow new billboards as part of an agreement with advertising companies that will limit the presence of the signs in the city’s main thoroughfare.

The Sandy Springs City Council unanimously approved the agreement during its Sept. 18 meeting. In addition to allowing the signs, the agreement also resolves any potential claims made by advertisers against the city over the signs.

Laurel Henderson, the attorney who is representing the city, said the resolution of the dispute gives the city important concessions while reducing the number of proposed signs from 21 to 8. The compromise will also keep the ads out of the city’s town center area around the triangle formed by Roswell Road, Mt. Vernon Highway and Johnson Ferry Road.

“We simply said some locations are totally unacceptable. On others we came up with restrictions to protect council’s intent as well as neighboring residences,” she said. “We have limited the potential downfall as much as we can do.”

There are two signs by one company, Boardworks Outdoor Advertising Company, the city approved in 2010. The signs are located at 8603 Roberts Drive and 5793 Roswell Road. Those signs will stay, bringing the total number of signs allowed to 10.

The agreement is an overall win for the city. City leaders, particularly Mayor Eva Galambos, have fought the billboards since a June 2011 Georgia Supreme Court decision granted the permits along Roswell Road, with many of the proposed locations in the town center area. Following the June 2011 decision, Galambos threatened to withhold $540,000 to purchase right of way for a streetscape project in order to dissuade property owners who were thinking of allowing billboards on their land.

The agreement also addresses another pet peeve of city leaders. The companies have agreed that they won’t sell ads to adult businesses like strip clubs and adult book stores.

But wait, there’s more. The city will also get free ads on the signs for seven consecutive days twice per year as part of the arrangement, allowing the city to promote special events and broadcast public service announcements.

The agreement provides 10 possible locations, or nodes, for the billboard companies to place signs.

They are:

–          Abernathy Road and Mount Vernon Highway

–          Holcomb Bridge Road at Spalding Drive

–          Interstate 285 and Northside Drive

–          Georgia 400 and Abernathy Road

–          Interstate 285 and Roswell Road

–          Georgia 400 and Hammond Drive

–          Roswell Road and Abernathy Road

–          Northridge Road near Roswell Road

–          Dunwoody Place

–          Roswell Road North

Henderson said the 2011 Supreme Court ruling gave the city little choice besides negotiating with the companies.

“There is no other court to which we can appeal that ruling,” she said.

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com