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Illuminated Billboard Woes Still Plague Atlanta's 'burbs

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Those familiar with the Bill of Rights know the First Amendment guarantees developers permission to erect large LED billboards wherever the hell they want. Right? In 2011, three sign companies successfully fought an ordinance restricting the construction of billboards in North Fulton, with the Georgia Supreme Court ruling that 75 signs could be placed north of Interstate 285, so as to not stifle the free speech of these corporations. Since the ruling, the cities in North Fulton, many of which came into existence after the lawsuit had been brought before the courts, have worked with the sign companies to make the best of an inherited situation. The Johns Creek City Council — apparently a bit more behind the times than Sandy Springs, Alpharetta and Milton — has taken up negotiations to decrease the total number of potential signs (31 under the court ruling). If Johns Creek is unsuccessful, it might be a good idea to adopt the luminescent billboard as the city's official tree. Meanwhile, their neighbors in the extreme northern exurbs are grappling with their own billboard related woes. The problem probably stems from all these damn, beautiful pine trees. — Michael Kahn