Signs of the times: City needs more control over billboard messaging

16 Nov


By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

With respect to the “Five Man Electrical Band,”  soon these behemoth billboards will be “blockin’ out the scenary, breakin’ my mind. ” You thought Route 1 was already an eyesore with its abandoned junk yards and strip clubs? Just wait until the money grab starts on this one.

Recently, the Peabody City Council approved a special permit to go along with new zoning, and paved the way for gigantic billboards, both static and electronic, to start “blockin’ out the scenary.” Why? Because the city stands to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in permitting fees.

Now, I know the city needs revenue, and I’d be the first to complain if they took it out of my taxpayer hide. But come on boys and girls of the city council: Do you really know what you’ve signed up for here?

The problem I have isn’t directly related to billboards. My concern is that the city council hasn’t done anything to give us some control over the content of these behemoths. That’s right, just as long as it doesn’t violate obscenity laws, we have no control of any of the messaging.

OK, so by now, I know that you’re probably screaming at me: “Bob, I thought you were pro First Amendment! Why do you want to censor billboard content!?”

Well,  it’s NOT a First Amendment issue! It’s a quality of life issue,  and before they think about filling up the city coffers, our elected officials should be thinking about how this all affects our community. What does it do to property values? And, what will happen if these messages are offensive?

You might think this is an extreme case, but it is possible under the new rules for these billboards that a racist organization like the American Nazi Party could post anti-Jewish content calling the Holocaust a hoax. Not only would something like that deeply hurt and offend people of the Jewish faith, but can you imagine the damage it might do to Peabody’s reputation as a community? It’s already bad enough that some people from around the country think of the Golden Banana first when someone mentions Peabody.

The city council definitely needs to take another look at this issue, and amend the special permit as necessary.

Here’s an article that recently ran on this issue in the Salem News.

This post brought to you by “You Make the Call,” Peabody’s longest-running cable show on the issues of the day.

7 Responses to “Signs of the times: City needs more control over billboard messaging”

  1. Ralphie November 16, 2012 at 5:21 pm #

    Wait until Hooters puts one up. Then the sparks will fly

  2. Foster Street November 16, 2012 at 5:28 pm #

    Mayor needs the money and he will get it anywhere he can. You are right Bob. This is about quality of life. It’s a shame how Peabody keeps going down hill when it comes to things like this. Just wait and see what happens when some crazy group puts crazy political messages up on those billboards. If we try to stop them now we are going to et sued AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Just a mom November 16, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    Heres the thing. City only cares about making $$$. Wait until there are girls with there you know whats hanging out on billbords. They will not care but we will have to explain this to our kids.

  4. Anonymous November 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm #

    Maybe if you watched the meetings you would understand this re-zoning shut down numerous lawsuits and placed in a specific location. There is new legislation coming and the city is being pro-active and attempting to restrict it from flooding the entire city…If you attempt to control content through subjectivity then you will get even more lawsuits. If everyone is upset then maybe take the fight to the statehouse and governor…You want to live in a liberal state!

  5. Jaded November 18, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Anon, I don’t have to watch the meetings to realize this is just a money grab by the city. As far as the lawsuits go, they were only put in by money grubbing local attorneys who don’t give a crap about Peabody. It’s all about the money. Instead of Pride in Peabody, our slogan should be “Show me the money”!!!!!!!


  1. City council should listen to mayor, nip this one in the bud « Eye on Peabody - November 26, 2012

    […] for a buck” attitude. We’re already going to pay the price on that sort of mentality once giant billboards start littering the roadsides. As I’ve written in this space before, I know the city needs revenue, but we need sustainable […]

  2. Sign of our times: What do you think of the first giant billboard? « Eye on Peabody - January 31, 2013

    […] space wrote about this back in November, and now here’s a real example of  what this might actually look like. For now,  I thought […]

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