Setting the record straight on the LED sign

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To the editor:

The Current recently published a letter authorized by the Egg Harbor Township Planning Board that was critical of an editorial appearing in the Press of Atlantic City on Sept. 3. This editorial questioned how the board could have approved the large digital billboard on the Margate Causeway.

That letter has some false and misleading statements. It indicates that a recent court finding calls into question the legality of accessory business signs throughout Egg Harbor Township. It also states that there are 18 billboards in the Marine Commercial Zone when in truth there is not a single one and never has been. Peter Miller, township administrator, has publically made these same false claims.

In court, we successfully overturned the Planning Board decision because Judge Mendez found that there was nothing in Egg Harbor Township’s zoning ordinance allowing such billboards in the Marine Commercial Zone and furthermore, the township’s master plan states that:

 “The purpose of the Marine Commercial Zone is to provide and encourage the development of waterfront facilities for recreational purposes and thereby provide for public access to the vast Egg Harbor waterfront area and to diligently guard against development whose intensity or density endangers the natural habitat.”

Judge Mendez found that the billboard on the Margate Causeway not only was not in accord with the master plan goals, but subverted them. He further ordered the pole for the billboard be removed from where it was illegally placed in wetlands.

The judge further found the billboard violated some technical provisions of the zoning ordinance relating to the distance between billboards and number of principle uses permitted on a lot. His judgment did nothing to make business signs illegal.

Incredibly, the planner and some members of the Planning Board are now proposing changes to the master plan to permit billboards in the Marine Commercial Zone where they have never been before. This includes portions of       Ocean Heights Avenue, Somers Point-Mays Landing Road, and the Longport Causeway in addition to the Margate Causeway.

Other changes in the master plan are clearly designed to overcome any legal objection to billboards being built in the Marine Commercial Zone.

It is incomprehensible why the Planning Board is going to these extreme lengths when dozens of residents appeared before the board to oppose billboard construction and none spoke in favor of it.

Billboards may be appropriate on the Atlantic City Expressway, but the township has spent about $60,000 of taxpayer money so far to defend putting billboards where few people wish to see them.

Any citizen who agrees that this does not make sense should show up at the Planning Board meeting 5:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18 at the Egg Harbor Township Municipal Building and make their voice heard.

Richard Levitt

Northfield

EDITOR’S NOTE: Richard Levitt filed suit in 2012 against the Egg Harbor Township Planning Board as well as Jersey Outdoor Media over the erection of a 60-foot LED sign along the Margate Causeway.

 


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