Billboards gone wild: Time to push pause, decide how many we’ll allow in Peabody

12 Dec

By Bob Croce, EOP Publisher

billboardThe end-of-the-year grab for riches is on, and tonight the Peabody City Council will be charged with either approving or denying another one of those unsightly electronic billboards for Route 1.

I say “grab for riches,” since someone who knows tells me that – once everyone takes their little cut — the total annual windfall for each one of these roadside eyesores could be more than $500,000.

These mammoth signs – which are “blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ our mind” – mean big bucks for Route 1 property owners and developers, the sign companies themselves, the city when it comes to permitting fees, and who knows who else will have their palms “greased.”

Instead of worrying about the threat of court challenges, the city council should tonight be voting based only on the impact these gigantic billboards will have on the quality of life of residents, driver safety, and the aesthetics of our community.

The vultures are so aggressive on this one that tonight the city council will hear testimony on two separate special permits for what would essentially be bumping billboards right next door to each other. One hearing is for a billboard at 47 Newbury at a small piece of property being developed in front of the Springhill Suites hotel. The other one is less than a bag of cash throw away at 55 Newbury in front of the Sonic Restaurant. Since state regulations dictate that the two billboards would be too close to each other, the city council can’t legally approve both.

The only responsible thing for the city council to do tonight would be to vote to approve neither until we can finally come up with some rules, and a civic vision on how many giant signs we’ll allow in our berg. Otherwise, Route 1 will end up looking like the Las Vegas strip.

By the way, this isn’t about trying to ban billboards, but it is about having some sort of control on how many we’ll allow and where. 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. It’s already getting out of control.

The proposal for the billboard at 47 Newbury is being presented by World Realty Trust, which has partnered with another recently familiar developer. Total Outdoor Corp, currently in court with Peabody over the notorious Lowell Street billboard would construct the sign at 47 Newbury.

The city gets $25K for the permit on each of these signs, but should everything be for sale here without first understanding what the impact will have on our landscape?

It’s time to push pause here for a moment and decide how many of these we’ll allow, and where. Otherwise, we’ll continue on this path of haphazard community development, which over the long run is going to have a major and negative impact on resident quality of life.

8 Responses to “Billboards gone wild: Time to push pause, decide how many we’ll allow in Peabody”

  1. anon December 12, 2013 at 10:38 am #

    Ah yes, the lust for tax dollars seems to know no bounds. Total Outdoor shouldn’t be allowed to do anything in this city until they remove that mess on Lowell Street, period. Of course we know that won’t happen.

  2. the Outfront Guy* December 12, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

    OG says…pardon me while OG slips on his Mickey the Dunce hat for just a minute…now let me ask this question….why do we fret about these giant billboards once they are up or in the process of actually being installed??? shouldn’t the cause for concern happen BEFORE the permits are granted??? what am I missing here? I just drove by Santarpio’s an hour ago and the sign is up and towering over the adjacent restaurant……why do we constantly cry over spilled milk here in Billboard City?

    • Anonymous December 13, 2013 at 7:31 am #

      you mean to tell me that you believe our gov’t,,,our local gov’t is having their palms greased,,,noooooooooooo say it isn’t so! corruption in our town nahhhh , They just go after you and destroy your life, corruption is small potatoes…

  3. Anonymous December 13, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

    If my memory serves me correctly, a billboard at Santarpio’s, along with other digital conversions were denied or withdrawn from consideration for a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals due to concerns about driver distraction in an already dangerous intersection and due to complaints from residents of Huntington woods.

    National traffic safety studies indicate that drivers are in fact distracted by a pending message change on digital boards. If a driver’s takes their eyes off the road for a mere five seconds while traveling at 55mph they will transverse length of a football field.

    Who even reads these signs, I for one, have never bought anything because it was on a billboard.

  4. Bob Croce December 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    As a quick update, the city council approved the sign for Sonic and rejected the sign in front of Springhill Suites. More to come as it develops, but it appears that this one will be heading to court. Springhill Suites developer is definitely not happy.

  5. the Outfront Guy* December 16, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    OG says…take a ride my friend…the new, big billboard is up and towering over Santarpio’s now….it’s a done deal.

  6. Anonymous January 27, 2014 at 8:42 am #

  7. Anonymous January 28, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    A Reconsideration vote on the Billboard deal is going to be taken at the Feb. 6th City Council meeting. (Thanks again to Councilor, Anne Manning-Martin.)
    A call to City Council members maybe in order.
    Time to let your opinions be known.

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