Officials approving majority of company's tree removal requests

by: Jim Bradley Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The road to cutting down hundreds of trees near interstate billboards is about to get smoother.

State engineers confirm they're approving the majority of requests for tree removal made by Adams Outdoor Advertising.

City arborist Don McSween didn’t know until Eyewitness News told him Thursday afternoon.

“We're obviously disappointed.  Felt like we made some good points,” McSween said.

Tim Simpson, the NCDOT engineer who reviewed 21 city objections filed a month ago, said a new state law that gives billboard companies the right to clear the equivalent of a football field in front of their billboards seems airtight.

“For the most part, they met the definition of the law to be approved,” he said.

Simpson said he's approving tree cutting in 16 locations around the city, but is denying five others where tax dollars paid for trees or shrubs planted in beautification projects.

But there's no question this is a major victory for the billboard industry and one that is likely to lead to even more companies asking for even more trees to be cut down.

“They've expanded the limits on what a billboard company can cut,” Simpson said. “So we're going to be getting more requests to clear cut a lot of these trees.”

And it will happen whether the city likes it or not.

“Adams has made promises that they will replant,” McSween said. “They've made promises that they're not going to cut down all the trees. We'll see.”

The approvals are just now being sent to Adams Outdoor Advertising.