Companies putting up new, giant electronic billboards on Route 1 bear watching

9 Apr

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

What the Peabody City Council approved unanimously back in December,  could become a reality this week when Clear Channel Communications goes before the Mass. Office of  Outdoor Advertising (MOOA) to seek four electronic billboard permits on Route 1.

billboardThe new signs are at 71 Newbury (near Santarpio’s Pizza)  and 201 Newbury (a little South of Lowell Street).  It’s two polls, but Clear Channel needs four permits, since the signs have both South facing and North facing sides. At this point, we don’t have a true indication of what affect these billboards might have on this Ward 5 neighborhood.  But considering the battle we are in with another outdoor advertising company, Total Outdoor Corp, over a misplaced billboard on Lowell Street near Route 1, it’s important for the city to be vigilant on these new signs.

In any event,  we continue to have an issue in Ward 5, particularly on Route 1, when it comes to intrusive and excessive development, including the destruction of property on Winona Street due in part to a project by developer Richard Marchese.

The billboard issue needs watching. Although there is only so much we can do legally to stop these roadside eyesores from going up, we need to ensure that theses companies abide by the terms of their special permits.  In many cases, there are appropriate places for these billboards, and it’s a nice piece of revenue for the city coffers.  But none of these giant advertising vehicles should be erected in areas where it has a negative affect on resident quality of life.

The city did a great job of that in shutting down Total Outdoor Corp when they placed their 90-foot billboard poll close to Lowell Street, and not where it was supposed to go. Now, we need to keep an eye on Clear Channel, a company with a reputation for not exactly caring about how their giant signs affect quality of life of people who live in the affected neighborhoods.

Today, I was contacted by the environmental group Scenic Massachusetts, which lobbies to ensure that billboard companies do not violate state regulations.

Scenic Mass wanted to thank me for my stance on billboards as a Ward 5 Councilor candidate, and inform me that the MOOA would hold a hearing on these new electronic signs on Thursday, April 11, 11 a.m., at the Transportation Building (10 Park Plaza, Boston). The public is welcome to attend, but I’ll also try to update everyone where on what happens in regards to Clear Channel’s permit request.

Stay tuned.

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