Billboard to come down in 90 days

County received money for 20 years with no formal lease



FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — A billboard on county land will have to be removed.

At issue is a billboard on the corner of Mullinax Road and Ga. Highway 9 that sits on county-owned land, said County Attorney Ken Jarrard.

“They are paying us rent,” Jarrard said. “But I’m not quite sure what to call the relationship.”

The county has been receiving checks and processing them, but recently decided to take a closer look at what’s in it for them.

Deputy County Manager Tim Merritt said he first researched the issue about six months ago.

“One reason was that the billboard just looked bad,” he told commissioners at an April 8 work session.

Merritt said a competitor asked if the county would consider leasing the billboard to them. After research, Merritt learned the billboard belonged to Lang Signs, but was on county property.

The sign’s owner was Herbert “Buddy” Lang, the founder of Lang Signs, who passed away June 7, 2011. Jimmy Myers, the executor of Lang’s estate, told the Forsyth County News last week he had not been notified by the county.

Although the owner of the billboard has paid the county for about 20 years to keep the sign there, there is no formal lease agreement with the county.

In reviewing records back to 2005, David Gruen, the county’s finance director, said the rent has been $150 per month. The agreement was put together in 1993.

“That is likely not market value for a billboard at Mullinax and Highway 9,” Jarrard said.

Jarrard gave commissioners options to renegotiate the billboard price, take it out for bids or remove it.

Commissioner Todd Levent made a motion to remove the sign within 90 days. Other commissioners agreed in a 4-0 vote, with Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills absent. The item will go for final approval at the April 17 regular Board of Commission meeting.

Also at the April 8 work session:

All votes were 4-0, unless noted, with Mills absent due to a stomach virus.

A motion by Levent failed 2-3 to add an item regarding increasing the lot size in RES3. (Commissioners Jim Boff and Levent voted in favor and Commissioners Pete Amos, Mills and Brian Tam were opposed.)

Approved conservation easement tendered by Autumn Properties LLC in compliance with UDC, Article 19 for Hunters Walk subdivision.

Approved the renewal of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia on behalf of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension as it relates to County Extension personnel, contingent upon legal verifying that the person signing on behalf of the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension has the authority to do so.

Accepted a bid for drilling of test wells and conversion of exploratory wells to production wells to award to Middle Georgia Water Systems.

Approved to renew agreement with AECOM for operations and maintenance of the Fowler Wastewater Treatment Facility for calendar year 2014.

Approved to request authorization for a task order with Brown and Caldwell for professional services.

Approved design and preparation of construction documents for the installation of a 16-inch waterline for future use on a replacement bridge on Ga. 53 at the Chestatee River being constructed by the Georgia Department of Transportation in an amount not to exceed $41,910.

Approved a memorandum of understanding with the Georgia Department of Transportation for installation of 16-inch waterline facilities for future use on a replacement bridge on Ga. 53 at the Chestatee River.

Approved raw wood waste processing/recycling regulations.

Accepted a settlement agreement between Forsyth County and Platte River Insurance Company.

Postponed to April 22 the outline of UDC changes for CR1, conservation subdivision, and senior housing.

Postponed to April 22 UDC modification of lot size and density applicable to southeast Forsyth County. The Board voted 3-2 to postpone to April 22. (Commissioners Boff and Levent opposed.)

Postponed to April 22 potential update to Forsyth County Tree Ordinance (Ordinance No. 98).

Postponed to April 22 presentation and discussion of the Lanierland Market Analysis Report as submitted by the National Association of Sports Commissions.

Postponed to April 22 discussion on deadline for submittal of zoning conditions for BOC consideration.

FH 04-16-14

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