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City Issues Stop Work Order After Billboard Installed in Wrong Spot

Mayor says an entertainment company that has erected a 92-foot tall billboard off Lowell Street has installed the pole in the wrong place and he wants it moved.

[Editor's Note: This article has been updated to reflect a correction. The correct height of the monopole is 92 feet.]

Mayor Ted Bettencourt says an entertainment company that has erected a 92-foot tall billboard off Lowell Street has installed the pole in the wrong place, and as a result, it's in full view by the neighborhood.

Bettencourt says that according to plans filed with the city and in court -- a judge overturned the City Council's original denial of the special permit for the billboard -- the pole should have been installed behind the building at 532 Lowell St. not on the side of it. He wants Total Outdoor Corp. now to move the pole to the right spot.

Bettencourt directed building inspectors to issue a cease and desist order Thursday afternoon to shut down the site. The pole was erected Tuesday and the billboard went up Wednesday, but no sign was installed yet.

"I insist they do the right thing...I just want to make sure it's put up where it's supposed to go," he said, adding that he expected to be hearing shortly from the company or its attorney.

The problem is that now the pole and billboard are very visible to Lowell Street traffic and to the rest of the neighborhood, instead of just on Route 1. Bettencourt said he's received multiple phone calls about it -- he has to drive by it himself every day to and from work.

The stop work order, assures Bettencourt, just stems from the company's promise, and the plans, that the billboard and pole be located out of sight of Lowell Street traffic, not in plain view.

The council rejected the permit last May on a 6-5 vote and the company then appealed in court and won, a judge ruling that there was no legal reason to deny the permit, given other similar signs in the area, particularly the sign across the street for Bonkers. The new sign, however, towers above that one.

That, and a statewide effort to revise zoning laws on billboards, led to the city revising its own regulations this past fall, effectively limiting new billboards to Route 1 and I-95.

The property is owned by David Belleau and a Subway shop is opening there soon.

Saber Walsh February 04, 2013 at 01:14 PM
But we still have that idiot chiropractor on 144 near Kappy's with his "Vegas-style" advertising, and he's ignored the city for YEARS. Go figure.
mom February 04, 2013 at 01:51 PM
We got the Bonkers sign way back because the Hallmark sign was not much bigger and now we get this huge sign because the Bonkers sign is not much bigger. At some point the city needs to challenge things. We pay a law firm to be available to defend out positions and yet with one ruling we stop. There is an appeal process we should fight this or it becomes the norm and we are stuck with it.
K February 04, 2013 at 02:03 PM
I don't get what the problem is. I drive by there almost everyday and I NEVER noticed it from Lowell Street until I was a passenger and looked out for it. I don't get how moving it behind the building would make a difference. It's still taller and bigger then the building. So unless you are looking up into the sky or too your left or right while driving, you will notice it and probably hit the car in front of you because you aren't paying attention. In that case you should probably have you licenses taken away if you are that distracted. Let's spend our time worrying about real problems.
Michael February 04, 2013 at 02:46 PM
I have to admit I don't like the thing. That area is visually congested as is. But I don't know what difference moving the base behind the building will make.
Dave February 04, 2013 at 05:24 PM
I agree, moving it to the back of the building will not solve the problem of making it an eye sore.
DEBBIE February 04, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Another eyesore to add to the Bonkers blunder. The area is congested enough and now we will attract more people to the area and a school is only around the corner. A few more of these, and we'll start to look like a Las Vegas strip. As obnoxious as the pole appears (like Bonkers), it really won't make a big difference if it moved around the back of the building. Peabody needs to keep a sharper eye on anything that is going up these days, signs, homes, malls, etc.
John Castelluccio (Editor) February 04, 2013 at 08:14 PM
Here are what some other readers said on Facebook: "Looks ridiculous and dangerous. Reminds me of a cell tower in Wakefield that they at least made to look like a fake tree, haha. Like a giant fake pine tree and even that would look better than this thing." "It's not the kind of thing that belongs on Lowell Street. What an eyesore... Even moving it behind the building will still look terrible." "I hate it. How could anyone feel comfortable working at Subway and have that thing directly above them."
Jk1357899 February 05, 2013 at 10:48 AM
I reall wish the city would just start outlawing these large signs all together. Yes we have the Bonkers sign, which is really too large and hideous, but that sign was allowed in under previous laws. Just because we mistakenly allowed a few large signs in the past, should not mean we can't change our laws to not allow them in the future! As for this new hideous billboard, tear it down! They didn't follow the law. You can't submit plans for a canoe and then build a tanker.
Deb February 08, 2013 at 06:51 AM
The Bonkers sign is a total distraction because it is electric. I tend to look at the Bonkers sign flash instead of the road. It should betaken down it is hideous. The subway sign is ugly and should have never approved. Maybe the mayor can try tofix both eye sores.
m .miller February 12, 2013 at 08:03 PM
These signs are taking away my peaceful ability to enjoy my home on Bourbon St.
dmarie February 16, 2013 at 05:48 PM
I totally agree I live at Ledgewood Condominium Complex and the Subway Shop and that monster of a double billboard should have never been allowed and putting that behind the building will not solve the problem it is an eyesore and definitely has created a negative impact on the property value of both Bourbon St condos and Ledgewood condos not to mention the additional traffic it will cause. Lowell Street already gets backed up and now you have people try to take a left to get into the Subway shop holding up traffic even more as well as it becoming more dangerous.

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