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Billboard Owners Soon May Get Rich If Signs Have To Come Down

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Local governments in North Carolina soon may have to pay to remove billboards.

It will not be cheap.

A bill passed the Legislature that would require cities and towns to pay owners five times the net annual income of the billboard.

North Carolina's Outdoor Advertising Association says it is the only fair way to compensate billboard owners

"The party who's requiring you to remove it should have to pay you for the loss of income," said Tony Adams, of the North Carolina Outdoor Advertising Association.

Adams said some people are against the arrangement because their product gets a bad rap.

"What's pretty and what's ugly is in the eye of those who look," Adams said. "I like billboards. I think sometimes they can be prettier than some of the landscape around, particularly in urban settings."

Billboards urge us to select the right house, pick the right car, even what taste to choose. Some people think too many in the Legislature are making the wrong choice on the billboard bill.

"It's just a windfall for the billboard industry," said Rep. Joe Hackney, D-Orange County.

Hackney said billboard bills have failed in the past, but not this time.

"The billboard industry has simply ramped up its lobbying and its campaign contributions, and whatnot," Hackney said, "and I think it's on the verge of succeeding over here in the General Assembly, at least."

The billboard compensation bill is on its way to the governor.

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