Judge rules for County in billboard dispute


Adams Outdoor Advertising found guilty of violating county code 

Above: Adams Outdoor Advertising was recently found guilty of violating Beaufort County code for work conducted on two billboards, like the one seen here, along Highway 21 near Stokes Brown Toyota. Photo courtesy of Beaufort County. 

From staff reports 

Judge Nancy Sadler on Friday, July 23, found defendants Bo Hodges and Adams Outdoor Advertising guilty of two violations of Beaufort County Community Development Code provisions 5.6.50(E) for failing to obtain proper approvals and engaging in prohibited restoration of signs that have become structurally unsound. 

“Adams Outdoor Advertising clearly violated Beaufort County Ordinance by choosing to rely on South Carolina DOT permits and failing to obtain the required Beaufort County permits and approvals,” Beaufort County Deputy Attorney Brittany Ward said in a release. 

The two billboards at issue are along Highway 21 near Stokes Brown Toyota. The existing supports were rotten and splitting and had been braced in previous repairs. 

Beaufort County issued a stop work order on the billboards on April 12 and took a “citations code enforcement action” for violation of the ordinance, Beaufort County Administrator Eric Greenway told The Island News in May. The case was heard July 14. 

The county contended that Adams Outdoor Advertising, a privately held company which has been called the fourth largest out-of-home advertising company in the United States, illegally built the signs by installing new support poles in new locations, in violation of the Ordinance which prohibits “replacement, rebuilding, … or re-erection of a sign.” 

Sentencing will be held at a later date. 

In May, Greenway said the county was also preparing for “a more protracted and longer legal battle” because of Adams Outdoor Advertising’s history of suing municipalities that impose restrictions on billboards. 

Adams sued the town of Mount Pleasant in 2020 after the town rejected the company’s requests to erect new digital billboards and convert traditional billboards to digital signs and has challenged billboard regulations in Virginia Beach, Va., and Madison, Wis. 

In addition to the modifications on current signs in Beaufort County, The Island News reported in May that Adams has applied for permits to convert 10 existing signs at locations throughout the county to illuminated digital signs. 

Beaufort County does not currently allow new billboards and does not allow internally illuminated signs. 

Original reporting on this story in the May 13 edition of The Island News was done by Mindy Lucas. 

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