From The Impact of Digital Billboard Advertising on Traffic Safety, April 2013

University of Alabama at Birmingham

 MOUNTING SAFETY CONCERNS

  • Macedonia African Methodist Church Cemetery is the resting place for freed slave April Waters and others.

  • It was little-known until the late 1990s when a group of area residents worked with Fulton County to secure historic designation. The site was in disrepair and overgrown, but a 2-acre parcel was designated historic by county commissioners. 

  • The story of April Watershas ties to the Civil War, the Cherokee Trail of Tears and the Revolutionary War.

  • Efforts are underway to help protect and care the cemetery. Read more.

  • ​​Billboard operators filed an application with GDOT to erect an LED billboard adjacent to the cemetery.

  • GDOT denied the application, citing it was less than 500 feet from the 2-acre cemetery boundary.

  • The billboard company appealed, and this time GDOT said the 500 feet should be measured from the first headstone, not the boundary line. This measurement is just 545 feet.

  • GDOT approved the location on appeal.

  • This billboard is located at the Fairway Package store at Medlock Bridge and State Bridge roads.
  • Residents obtained zoning documents for this location that appear to show a pre-existing restriction against billboards.
  • ​City officials approved a building permit for the billboard in October 2016, saying the settlement agreement supersedes zoning restrictions.  

Studies are showing that digital billboards (DBBs) contribute to distracted driving.

ABOUT THE CEMETERY

BILLBOARD BACKGROUND

  • ​Before Johns Creek incorporated, billboard companies filled applications with GDOT for 31 billboards in the part of Fulton County that is now the city. 

  • ​After incorporation, Johns Creek sought to deny the billboards based on a Fulton County sign ordinance that existed prior to incorporation.
  • Billboard companies filed a lawsuit and the case went to the Georgia Supreme Court where it was held that the sign ordinance violated commercial free speech and billboards were allowed within context of existing laws.
  • ​City officials entered settlement negotiations with the company and agreed to 10 billboards.
  • ​The agreement should not supersede pre-existing zoning law or restrictions. 
  • ​Six billboards have been erected and others are in process. Read more.

CEMETERY BILLBOARD

Johns Creek BILLBOARDS