It appears most of those hideous billboards that line the highways leading from New York to its bedroom communities are illegal. The Times tells us that federal guidelines required New York to lose most of its billboards in 1979. yet there are hundreds littering the big roads. Some of the signs’ locations were given special clearance back in ’79, and some are OK for other reasons, but many have just been thrown up along the highway by space-sellers in full defiance of the law. A decision by Judge Paul Crotty this spring called these malefactors out, and some of the visual polluters have, with great chutzpah, answered the charge with their own lawsuit on free-speech grounds, meaning they’ll probably hold out until the tea parties take over and rescue them, overturning all environmental laws and making billboards mandatory. The case continues to rattle around in court, and the city won’t fine the billboard companies till it plays out.