After years of legal wrangling, two billboards on Sandy Springs’ Roswell Road across from City Springs finally came down Sept. 24, clearing the way for a planned park.
Mayor Rusty Paul piloted an earthmover that knocked down one of the billboards, according to the city’s Facebook page, which included a video. The other, larger billboard was pushed to the ground around 5:15 p.m. by a demolition crew with an earthmover while some city employees watched from the Sandy Springs Performing Arts Center across the street.
“Good stuff!” exclaimed Ronda Smith, president of the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods, who was on the scene shortly after the second billboard came down.
The billboards stood on the triangle of land at the intersection of Mount Vernon Highway and Roswell and Johnson Ferry roads.
The city intends to redesign the intersection and turn part of the triangle into a park. In the meantime, the billboard dispute was partly responsible for stalling work for more than three years, leaving ads and broken concrete across from the city’s prized new civic center. Paul previously referred to it as “the wasteland.”
In 2017, the city agreed to buy the triangle for $4.8 million from W.B. Holdings Triangle LLC. That company’s principal, Adam Orkin, extended the leases with Outfront Media for the billboards with a clause that said the lease would cease to exist, City Attorney Dan Lee told the council last year.
The city sued for an eviction warrant with the case heard in Fulton County Superior Court. In November 2019, the city heard from the court that the judge issued an order in the city’s favor. But Outfront Media filed an appeal. The city filed for an emergency order in Fulton County Superior Court on Jan. 17 to remove the billboards to make way for a driveway for a temporary fire station that now stands on the other side of Mount Vernon. The fire station had been operating, apparently successfully, with the billboards in place.
Outfront Media lost its appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals, city spokesperson Sharon Kraun said. Initially the billboard company filed an appeal to the Supreme Court of Georgia, but later withdrew that appeal.
Commercial buildings and an auto shop that stood on the triangle were demolished in 2017.
–Bob Pepalis and John Ruch