Duke law professor to speak to local environmental groups about highway beautification Oct. 25

Full announcement from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville:

Ryke Longest: Director of Environmental Law and Policy Clinic
Clinical Professor of Law at the Duke University School of Law
Rise and Fall of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965:
Can it Rise Again?
October 25, 2012, 5:30 PM
The Unitarian Universalist Congregation
1 Edwin Place (Charlotte Street corner)

Sponsored by: Billboard Free Asheville
Earth and Social Justice Ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville
The Sierra Club
Western North Carolina Alliance
PLEASE JOIN Mr. Longest to listen to his remarks followed by a Question and Answer time.
Mr. Longest’s Credentials:
Longest currently serves as the Director of the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic and a Clinical Professor of Law at the Duke University School of Law. He supervises students practicing in the clinic and teaches the seminar portion of the clinic.
Ryke received his B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill in 1987 and graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1991. After graduation from law school, Ryke worked as a solo practitioner doing criminal defense work as well as small civil cases. In 1993, he began to work for the North Carolina Department of Justice in the Environmental Division. During his 14 year career at Justice, he served as lead counsel to state level environmental agencies, boards and commissions. Ryke litigated cases before administrative agencies, state courts, federal courts and appellate courts at all levels. He also drafted legislation and advised agencies on rulemaking. In addition, Longest represented the State of North Carolina in complex criminal appeals.

Ryke is admitted to practice in the state courts of North Carolina, the United States District Courts for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina, the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. He is also an active member of the N.C. Bar Association.
Some of Our Concerns:
• Legislators did not have the true facts to approve SB183 in 2011. There are many documented reasons to revisit the law.
• Billboards may be erected, and trees cut along State and Federal highways under NC law (SB183), regardless of local ordinances. This is contrary to the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which stipulates compliance with local zoning
• It is illegal to give away trees when they belong to the public domain; this is a subsidy of out-of-state corporations. Since the passage of SB183 70,000 trees, valued at $56,000,000.00, have been removed. It is a “Crime in Progress.”
• North Carolina prides itself about its Scenic Beauty and relies on TOURISM.
• One fourth of the North Carolina road maintenance budget comes from FEDERAL FUNDS. The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 and U.S.C #131 originally eliminated billboards from Federal Highways with control and enforcement given to the states. The penalty for lack of enforcement is loss of FEDERAL HIGHWAY SUBSIDIES.
• Billboards are allowed on industrial sites and Brownfields (EPA initiative). Without proper oversight clear-cutting has already taken place and Brownfield sites have been breached. There is possibility of hazardous waste leaching into the storm-waters.
• NC has the HIGHEST TAX RATE @38.9 CENTS PER GALLON (American Petroleum Institute Jan. 2012) to support the second largest network of state-maintained roads in the nation.
• Local jurisdictions have had their concerns ignored and have been over-ridden by the zealous nature of the out-of-state Outdoor Advertising Industry.
• There are 7,000 signs in North Carolina. Permitting and establishment of the advertising vehicles do not bear the cost of use relative to the profits of the industrial giants like Clear Channel, CBS, Fairway and Lamar to name a few. A digital billboard nets up to $300,000.00 per year.


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