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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – A Texas lawmaker is proposing a bill that would establish a TxDOT-run tree trimming program so that billboards and other business signs would be more visible.
Rep. Chris Paddie (R) from Marshall has introduced the legislation that would allow for businesses to petition to TxDOT for approval to trim or remove “seedlings, saplings, trees, and vegetation on the state highway” to provide “suitable visibility to adjacent businesses.”
HB 1863 would require businesses to get permission before taking action, and businesses would be required to replace the vegetation removed or reimburse the department for its value.
The bill is in the early stages, and will be up for public comment in the Transportation Committee meeting, Thursday morning in Austin.
Critics say Texas would be sacrificing the landscape that makes it beautiful by allowing this bill to pass.
“All the value of the view is provided by the roads that we pay for as taxpayers,” said Don Glendenning, with Scenic Texas.
Scenic Texas – a non-profit dedicated to the beautification of the states thoroughfares, is against the bill.
“I just hope our legislators will keep foremost in their minds, the legacies of generations to come. We all want beautiful thoroughfares. Trees, not advertising,” said Glendenning.
While the bill would apply to all business signage adjacent to state roads, support comes from the Outdoor Advertising Association of Texas, which represents billboard companies.
OAAT Spokesperson Lee Vela says businesses pay a premium to be located along well-traveled roadways.
Through a statement sent by his Chief of Staff, Rep. Paddie says the proposal is about establishing a process, where none exists:
There is currently no process available for businesses along a highway or right-of-way to deal with vegetation that is blocking their business – this obligation lies exclusively with TxDOT. This bill allows businesses to apply to TxDOT with a plan to manage vegetation around the right-of-way. They can only implement the plan with TxDOT’s approval.
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