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Friday, February 12, 2010

Midtown mega-billboard owner to city: Get off my First Amendment

Medical-Arts-Building-MetroPCS

Last week we reported that the city was in the process of issuing citations against KH Outdoor LLC, the billboard company responsible for the MetroPCS mega-ad wrapped around three sides of the vacant Medical Arts Building on Peachtree.

Well, the billboard company says the 10-story-tall promotion is legit — and it's appealing the citations. And on April 1 at noon, the company will state its case in front of the Board of Zoning Adjustments at City Hall.

According to an appeal filed with the city on Feb. 5, KH Outdoor claims the planning department failed to follow standard procedure when it issued the citations. It also says the city has turned a blind eye to other building owners — such as Turner Studios and the Georgia Dome — for the same violation. Finally, KH Outdoor claims the ordinance is unconstitutional under state and federal law — and its enforcement is a violation of the company's right to free speech.

In the appeal, the company's lawyer states: "Respectfully, KH Outdoor contends that the City's ordinance suffers from myriad constitutional deficiencies, including but not limited to failing to provide sufficient procedural safeguards, conveing undue discretion to officials making permitting decisions, and ... denying applicants equal protection under the law."

In other words: The company doesn't appear to be willing to pay a fine and walk away. You can read the Medical Arts Building billboard appeal documents in PDF form here.

(A quick point of clarification: Last week we reported the billboard owner as Revelation Outdoor Management, which is what we were told by a MetroPCS spokeswoman. The appeal applicant lists a Revelation e-mail address, but KH Outdoor is the company filing the appeal. Although the website doesn't state whether one owns the other, it's safe to say they're affiliated or have contracted with one another.)

UPDATE, 1:22 p.m.: Ben at Terminal Station has an excellent post that looks past the questions of code violations and asks: Why is this building still vacant? Worth a read.

(Photo by Max Shirley)

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