Christine Stuart file photo

The billboard industry has taken a few hits this year.

It started with Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s announcement that she will not renew the leases of billboards located on state property. And now the state is suing, Lamar Advertising, one of the largest billboard companies in the state, for clear-cutting 83 mature trees, so its billboard near Interstate 84 in Waterbury would be more visible to highway traffic.

In this lawsuit filed earlier this week, the Attorney General’s office, alleges that more than a year ago, Lamar Advertising clear cut 83 “mature trees owned by the taxpayers of the State of Connecticut solely for the economic gain resulting from improved visibility.”

In a phone interview earlier this week Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said his office made efforts to resolve the issue and asked Lamar to cooperate by helping repair the environment before it filed the lawsuit.

“Lamar’s unconscionable disregard decimated a vital buffer between nearby homes and a major interstate highway. Repairing this needless environmental and aesthetic harm will require years and resources,” Blumenthal said in a press release Friday.

The lawsuit says the trees formed a natural barrier between Interstate 84 and abutting properties “providing natural shade to the public while driving and natural aesthetic beauty to the roadside and surrounding landscape.”

The lawsuit claims Lamar had a permit to trim some of the trees near the billboard, but did not have permission to cut down trees and shrubs in the area where the 83 trees were located.