CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -- Billboard companies in Georgia can go on the public highway rights-of-way and clear-cut trees that block their signs, under a law OK'd last year by the state Legislature.

That doesn't sit well with the city of Columbus, Ga., and two nonprofit organizations there, the Gateway Foundation and Trees Columbus, that have spent millions of dollars planting trees and otherwise landscaping near highways and cloverleafs.

They took their case on Jan. 8 to the Georgia Supreme Court, which is expected to rule by July on the new law's constitutionality.

The billboard opponents argue the clear-cutting is a gift of the public's resources -- its trees and scenic easements -- to billboard companies that will pay what opponents say is a pittance for trees they cut. Meanwhile, outdoor advertisers say signs provide information to motorists and entice them to stop and spend millions of dollars, which benefits the state's economy.

Read more from our news partners at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.