513 S.E.2d 70 (N.C.App. 1999), COA98-580, Whiteco Outdoor Advertising v. Johnston County Bd. of Adjustment

Docket Nº:COA98-580.
Citation:513 S.E.2d 70, 132 N.C.App. 465
Party Name:WHITECO OUTDOOR ADVERTISING, a division of Whiteco Industries, Inc., Petitioner, v. JOHNSTON COUNTY BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT, Respondent.
Case Date:March 02, 1999
Court:Court of Appeals of North Carolina

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513 S.E.2d 70 (N.C.App. 1999)

132 N.C.App. 465


Industries, Inc., Petitioner,



No. COA98-580.

Court of Appeals of North Carolina.

March 2, 1999

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[132 N.C.App. 466] Appeal by petitioner from order entered 18 February 1998 by Judge E. Lynn Johnson in Johnston County Superior Court. Heard in the Court of Appeals 11 January 1999.

Wilson & Waller, P.A., by Betty S. Waller, Raleigh, for petitioner-appellant.

J. Mark Payne and W.A. Holland, Jr., Smithfield, for respondent-appellee.

MARTIN, Judge.

Petitioner Whiteco Outdoor Advertising ("Whiteco") appeals from an order of the superior court affirming a decision of respondent Johnston County Board of Adjustment ("Board") denying Whiteco a use permit to rebuild two damaged billboard signs. The facts underlying this appeal are summarized from the record as follows:

In May 1996, Whiteco managed two billboard signs at different sites adjacent to Interstate 95 in Johnston County, North Carolina. One billboard is located on property owned by Joe Austin ("the Austin sign") and was constructed in January 1960; the other billboard was constructed in September 1982 and is located on property owned by William Kawecki ("the Kawecki sign"). The billboard signs are subject to regulation by both Johnston County and the North [132 N.C.App. 467] Carolina Department of Transportation ("DOT"), and, prior to May 1996, were nonconforming with Johnston County Zoning Ordinance, Article 5.5, Spacing of Signs. The Austin sign was also nonconforming with DOT regulations and the North Carolina Outdoor Advertising Act.

On 6 May 1996, a windstorm damaged both billboards. Whiteco immediately undertook repairs to restore the signs. On 7 May 1996 the Johnston County Assessment Team for storm damage examined the signs and reported both signs as being "totally destroyed." On 8 May, Greg Smith, a Johnston County building inspector, examined both sites and noted the presence of destroyed sign poles, new sign building materials, including new poles erected at each site, as well as the absence of the old billboard faces. Based on this inspection, a notice was placed at each site informing Whiteco that building permits were required prior to replacing the signs. However, Whiteco continued replacement efforts without obtaining building permits.

On 22 May 1998, C.P. Thompson, Chief Building Inspector for Johnston County, informed Whiteco that the signs had been replaced in violation of stop work orders posted at both sites on 8 and 9 May, and that the signs should be removed. Whiteco was also notified by Calvin Genereux, Johnston County Planning Director, that the signs had been damaged in excess of 50% of their initial value, and that the Johnston County Zoning Ordinance prohibited their replacement. Mr. Genereux informed Whiteco that the County would not issue use permits for the signs to be rebuilt and instructed Whiteco to remove the signs. Whiteco denied that it had been made aware of the stop work orders prior to

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proceeding with the repairs and contended the cost of repairs to the signs did not exceed 50% of their respective values.

Whiteco appealed Mr. Genereux's decision to respondent Board. After a hearing, the Board determined that both signs had been damaged more than 50% of the original cost of erecting them, rejecting Whiteco's...

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