(a) When a district engineer determines that a proposed outdoor advertising structure would not conform to the standards of outdoor advertising as set out in the Outdoor Advertising Control Act, the district engineer shall refuse to issue a permit for that proposed outdoor advertising structure.
(b) When a violation of the Outdoor Advertising Control Act has been discovered, the district engineer shall notify the permit applicant by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, addressed to the party to be noticed, and delivering to the addressee, in writing, the reason for the denial and the statutes or rules forming the basis for the denial and include a copy of the Act.
(c) The Department shall not issue permits for new outdoor advertising signs at a sign location for a period of five years where the unlawful destruction or illegal cutting of vegetation has occurred within 500 feet on either side of the proposed sign location and as measured along the edge of the pavement of the main travel way of the nearest controlled route. For the purposes of this section, unlawful destruction or illegal cutting is defined as the destruction or cutting of trees, shrubs, or other vegetation on the State-owned or State-maintained rights-of-way by anyone other than the Department or its authorized agents, or without written permission of the Department. Before a permit is denied pursuant to this subsection, the Department shall reveal some evidence that the unlawful destruction or illegal cutting would create, increase, or improve a view to a proposed outdoor advertising sign from the main travel way of the nearest controlled route. The five-year period shall begin on the date the Department executes a settlement agreement or final disposition of the case is entered. The five-year prohibition period for a new sign permit shall apply to all sign locations, including the following:
(1) Sign locations where the unlawful destruction or illegal cutting of vegetation occurs prior to the time the location becomes a conforming location.
(2) Sign locations where a revocation of an existing permit has been upheld and a sign has been removed.
(3) Sign locations where the unlawful destruction or illegal cutting occurs prior to receipt of an outdoor advertising permit.
(4) Sign locations where the unlawful destruction or illegal cutting occurs following receipt of an outdoor advertising permit application, but prior to the issuance of the permit by the Department.
(d) The Department shall not issue permits for new outdoor advertising signs at a sign location where existing trees, if they were to reach the average mature size for that species, would make the proposed sign faces, when erected, not completely visible from the viewing zone. "Existing trees" are those trees that at the time of the permit application are four inches or greater in diameter as measured six inches from the ground. "Viewing zone" means the area which is 500 feet as measured along the edge of the main travel way of the controlled route on each side of the proposed sign structure which will have a sign face.
(e) An outdoor advertising permit requested pursuant to G.S. 136-129(a)(4) [G.S. 136-129(4)] shall not be issued to a location if the zoning to commercial or industrial zones was adopted within one year prior to the filing of the permit application and is not part of comprehensive zoning or constitutes spot zoning, which, for purposes of this subsection, shall be defined as zoning designed primarily for the purpose of permitting outdoor advertising signs and in an area which would not normally permit outdoor advertising. Zoning shall not be considered "primarily for the purpose of permitting outdoor advertising signs" if the zoning would permit more than one principal commercial or industrial use, other than outdoor advertising, and the size of the land being zoned can practically support any one of the commercial or industrial uses.
(f) Outdoor advertising permits shall not be issued to a location for a period of 12 months prior to the proposed letting of a new construction contract that may affect the spacing or location requirements for an outdoor advertising structure until the project is completed. The prohibition authorized by this subsection shall not extend for a period longer than 18 months. Priority in spacing shall be given by the Department to the first submitted application for an outdoor advertising permit at the location.
(g) Outdoor advertising permits shall not be issued for a location on a North Carolina or United States route designated as a scenic byway. (2011-397, s. 8.)
Last modified: March 23, 2014