The settlement was the product of sign permit applications with Fulton County before the city was incorporated. Milton inherited the issue when it was incorporated. City Attorney Ken Jarrard said while the area was still under Fulton’s control there were applications for up to 16 billboards within the land that would become Milton. The Fulton County sign code preventing these signs was stricken in the courts, and when Milton was incorporated the city then was required to honor that litigation.
Jarrard said the city manager and staff have been negotiating with the billboard companies for more than a year to achieve a compromise that “on one hand would acknowledge as we must the outcome of the litigation while on the other hand vindicate the city of Milton’s interests and rights in diminishing the impact of this on our citizens.”
Negotiations between the city and the sign companies resulted in compromises allowing limited billboards in the city. Jarrard said the city went with a “node” method, dividing the city into five nodes. Advertisers will have the right to construct up to four signs in the city with no more than one per node.
City Councilmember District 3 Bill Lusk said the whole situation was not ideal but the city and the companies they worked with achieved compromises that work for both.
“It’s not the best of worlds out there for Milton but I think it’s the best thing that we could have done here in consideration of the position that we’ve been put in by the courts,” he said.
This action does not set precedent and only applies to those companies within the settlement. Companies seeking to erect billboards in the future will have to present an application and adhere to the rules on the books.
The settlement was accepted with conditions by a vote of 5-0. Councilmember Lance Large was absent and Councilmember Karen Thurman recused herself of the vote.
The conditions were to modify some of the language of the settlement and to allow the attorney to renumber the exhibits in the settlement packet.