Welcome To The Scenic Florida Website
Grand Jury Releases Findings On Billboard Company's Illegal Tree Cutting Permits
In June 2009, Citizens for a Scenic Florida received an anonymous letter reporting that acres of trees were being cut down along I-10 and other state roads in the Panhandle without approved vegetation management plans or associated mitigation fees. As it turned out, more than 2000 trees were "illegally removed" from state right-of-way along I-10 and other roads in the Panhandle. The letter indicated that the trees were removed by Bill Salter Advertising Co. in order to create view zones for the company's billboards. The letter also suggested that Salter Advertising had used the influence of then State Representative Greg Evers to broker a deal with FDOT leadership and that an FDOT employee had been ordered by the FDOT District Director of Operations James Rodgers to let Salter Advertising "do whatever they want." In response to public records requests by Citizens for a Scenic Florida and the St. Pete Times, no documents provided by FDOT confirmed any communications on the subject between then Representative Evers, then FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos, and then FDOT Deputy Secretary Kevin Thibault. In response to a public records request made in 2010 (by a citizen in St. Petersburg) for all emails to and from Secretary Kopelousos for a given period, among the thousands of documents provided by FDOT were emails revealing such communication between Evers, Kopelousos and Thibault. Other emails turned up later when the original records requests were repeated verbatim in 2011. This information was forwarded to the State Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit and subsequently reviewed by a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury called it a debacle.
* Grand Jury Presentment (report)
* Grand Jury Presentment Attachments
* Citizens for a Scenic Florida Press Release
* Citizens for a Scenic Florida letter to Governor Scott
* Citizens for a Scenic Florida letter to FDOT Secretary
* FDOT letter (dated 2-22-2012) to Bill Salter Advertising, Inc.
First District Court of Appeal Rules Against CBS Outdoor In Dispute with FDOT Over Sound Wall Installation
Photo: Citizens for a Scenic Florida
On October 23, the court affirmed FDOT’s position that CBS’s was not entitled to redress in their dispute.
"CBS Outdoor…owns three 'nonconforming signs' (billboards) ...along what is now Interstate 95 in Jacksonville, Florida. CBS Outdoor and SLG Investments, LLC, both own land upon which the billboards are erected. Adjacent to these signs, FDOT erected a sound wall on its own property along I-95 that will screen or obstruct the view of Appellants’ signs from the interstate.
Under Florida law, when signs become screened or blocked due to the construction of a sound barrier, the owners of some types of signs may raise the height of their signs or receive other statutorily provided remedies…
…A sign must fall within the class of signs 'lawfully erected', 'conform[ing] to state and federal requirements', and 'lawfully permitted' in order to qualify for the process and benefits available under this statute.
In conclusion, we affirm FDOT’s order of dismissal because Appellants’ [CBS] nonconforming signs are not entitled to the process and remedies provided for in § 479.25, Florida Statutes..."
-- Case No. 1D12-5483, The District Court Of Appeal, First District, State Of Florida