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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.

Patch file photo.
Patch file photo.
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).
Johnny D December 11, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Deny them both. Obnoxious eyesores. But, alas, the right people will be paid off and we will inevitably be subjected to at least one of these bright monstrosities. Who will win? Simple, the guys with the deeper pockets (and right connections). First the Lowell Street drama and now this...kind of ridiculous that this is even an issue. The sign at the intersection of Mt. Pleasant and 114 is dangerous...especially while turning onto 114 after nightfall.
Terry P December 12, 2013 at 07:34 AM
Deny them both is right on! They are nothing but eyesores and a hazard to drivers! A distraction! For what, for dollars to the city! At what cost? So Peabody can look honky-tonk? Do we want to look like Revere, Rte 1 Saugus, Kittery Maine? Consider the people who see these monstroscities when they look out their window., even from a distance. Stop these signs!! Wake up mayor and city council!
Terry P December 12, 2013 at 07:40 AM
P.S. I thought we were trying to clean up Peabody s rte 1. It was starting to look better. Is this someone 's idea of a joke? There are other ways to make money.
Dan Walcott January 29, 2014 at 05:27 PM
Who applied for the permit first? 50' is to close for any billboard. "Eyesores" are many things to many people. Once we start down the path of neighbors dictating what people can and can't view, we are in a dangerous place. I would say that Box Stores, utility poles, and gas stations are "eyesores". Shall we remove all our electricity to keep ME happy? I can agree that ultra bright LED billboards can be annoying. A call to the company or the City about dimming the unit might be more appropriate. I have to hope the citizens of your community are smart enough to operate an automobile instead of sight seeing. The rest of the country seems to pull that off just fine.
Johnny D January 31, 2014 at 06:56 PM
It is not the citizens of our community that we are worried about...we will be used to them because we will be subjected to their hideousness every day. People who do not frequent the road will be much more distracted, and likely cause quite the mess out there. Where are you from Mr. Walcott? Are you in the advertising business?
Dan Walcott February 03, 2014 at 12:10 PM
I reside in Indiana. What people say in New York can change our lives here negatively. No matter where I am from, each of us have an opinion on billboards. Some want them totally banned, others want middle ground, and some uncaring individuals want to make a fast buck. I started as a billboard painter and I have a lot of pride in our craft. I enjoy merging my artwork with helping businesses increase their visibility. Sadly, we will never legislate people taking pride in their work. That is the downside to living in a free nation. A few are going to not make us happy. Some sign protesters seem to never be happy unless it goes 100% their way. I prefer spacing and zoning requirements, no less than what we require with box stores and gas stations. Permit larger signs in heavy commercial and traffic areas. Limit the size of billboards in lesser commercial areas. If the public wants a nature scene, don't let land be voted into Commercial or Industrial zones. Lady Byrd created common sense rules that are simple. People now just want to micro manage everything about their neighbors. I specialize in Junior Posters. These small billboards do not overpower quieter commercial areas and Mom and Pop businesses appreciate what we do. Ask any of the non for profits we help and they will also tell you they appreciate us allowing them to get their messages out.

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