15 Sep 2014
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My Digital Billboard Proposal is Better Than Yours...

The City Council is faced with deciding between two special permits for digital billboards located on neighboring Route 1 properties. The structures would be too close to each other to approve both.

My Digital Billboard Proposal is Better Than Yours...
This one's a bit unusual -- the Peabody City Council is faced with two similar digital billboard proposals for Route 1, but due to state regulations on the proximity of one structure to another, the council can only approve one of them. Or neither of them.

One special permit request is from World Realty Trust for 47 Newbury St., which is a small parcel of land being developed in front of SpringHill Suites.

The proposal is straightforward -- there would be two digital faces to the billboard (each one 14 feet by 48 feet) and the structure wouldn't be taller than 60 feet.

The firm would enter into a lease agreement with Total Outdoor Corp. for construction of the billboard. Attorney John Keilty said the billboard would be similar in all respects to the digital sign at the Northshore Mall. The advertisement changes about every 10 seconds.

The other proposal is for 55 Newbury St. (literally next-door), which houses the Sonic restaurant. The owners, Regina and Greg Monastiero of JAM Enterprises LLC, also want to erect a digital billboard on their property.

That plan likewise would be for two digital faces, the structure would be 64 feet tall and otherwise of similar dimensions to the other proposed sign.

The Monastieros also said they're willing to give the city a permanent spot on the sign, seven days a week, and would donate 10 percent of the annual proceeds to the city in addition to paying the annual renewal fee. The permit fee for a digital billboard is $25,000.

The problem is that the new regulations recently laid out by the state on digital billboards say you can't have one on the same side of the highway within 1,000 feet of each other. These two signs would be about 50 feet apart if the council approved both.

Councilors heard both requests last week and upon the suggestion of Ward 5 Councilor Dave Gamache -- it's his ward -- decided to recess both public hearings until Dec. 12 to give all members a chance to drive by each site and gather any questions before taking a vote on either permit.

Gamache said he wanted to be fair to both sides to try and work out the issues and avoid going to court.

"We're looking at which site is the best site," he said, noting both sides could come to their own agreement outside the permit process. He also pointed out World Realty Trust submitted its application a few days earlier than JAM Enterprises.

The Monastieros do have another problem with their neighbor's proposed billboard -- the location noted in the permit application would obstruct their existing sign for Sonic. They're also looking to expand and add a dining hall.

Keilty said his client was willing to place the pole on another part of the property if the council does approve his permit.

City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski was on hand for the council session last week, specifically to answer any legal questions on the subject of billboards.

"It's like a billboard Rubik's cube," he told Peabody Patch afterward, smiling.

In other news, another digital billboard is currently being installed at 71 Newbury St. behind Santarpio's and the council did approve a digital billboard last week for 200 Jubilee Dr. (behind the Extended Stay Hotel and facing the highway).

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