Appeals for 12 rejected billboard applications have been denied by the Dawson County Board of Commissioners.
At a voting session on Thursday, Oct. 15, commission members voted unanimously to ‘affirm the decisions of county staff to reject the 12 applications.
“Because the Dawson County Sign Ordinance is constitutional, all procedures related to the consideration of the application were properly followed and the application fails to comply with the Dawson County Sign Ordinance,” District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said at the meeting. “The application was properly denied.”
At a specially called meeting held during the first week of October, the board was told that each of the applications were rejected by county staff in September for “multiple infractions of the Dawson County Sign Ordinance.”
The proposed billboards, ten 70-foot signs and two 15-foot signs, were applied for by Victory Media Group LLC and Action Outdoor Advertising II LLC, and were proposed to be built on various roads throughout Dawson County, including Lumpkin Campground Road, Blue Ridge Parkway, Dawson Forest Road, War Hill Park Road and Ga. 400.
During the meeting on Thursday, Oct. 8, Dawson County Planning and Zoning Director Jameson Kinley walked the board through each of the applications, listing the specifications of what was proposed and why each was denied, citing multiple deviations from the county’s sign ordinance.
According to Kinley’s presentation, among the reasons for denial were issues with the materials and construction specifications of the signs, as well as safety concerns for motorists, which might be caused by an illuminated or electronic sign.
“Any time we come across a sign or application to be illuminated, we always include (sections of the county sign ordinance regarding signs), just because we want to make sure that it’s not distracting for motor vehicles,” Kinley said. “We would call those out on any sign that would be illuminated, just to start those conversations of, how is it controlled … we just want to be sure those are met, the denial wasn’t strictly based on those alone.”
Following Kinley’s presentation, Adam Webb of Atlanta-based law firm Webb, Klase and Lemond, the firm representing Victory Media Group LLC and Action Outdoor Advertising II, brought a series of objections to the denials before the board.
According to Webb, the 12 billboards are intended to help local businesses, especially in the “high growth areas” along the Ga. 400 corridor, and should be seen as a way to help the local economy.
“You’ve done a lot of growing, particularly in this corridor where these applications are submitted,” Webb said. “But you’ve got all that growth and no assistance to local businesses for directing folks off of 400 to get to those businesses. That’s what’s needed and that’s what these applications are much, much geared toward.”
In a statement to the Dawson County News, Dawson County Attorney Angela Davis denied Webbs claims that county staff had not followed procedure with the applications, and stated that they are confident the county’s sign ordinance is not unconstitutional.
Davis said that she believes the issue of the 7-day time period arose due to a misunderstanding and that the time period allowed by the ordinance refers to business days.
“I’m confident of the staff’s decision in this matter,” she said.