Zoning Board Denies Digital Billboard Requests: Applicants Sought to Establish Large Electronic Billboards on Lower Broadway

February 6, 2013
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The Everett Zoning Board of Appeals denied two separate requests by applicants to erect large (14’ x 48’) electronic digital billboards on Lower Broadway Monday night, in deference to the “residential neighborhood” which has emerged in the area of the Charleston Chew Lofts and the planned $50 million apartment development that is going to begin construction next door.

The proposed digital billboards would have replaced existing static billboards at 20 Broadway and 30 Broadway. In the case of the 30 Broadway billboard site, the owners, Clear Channel Media, were also seeking permission to expand the size and height of the billboard. The existing billboard at 20 Broadway is already 14’ x 48.’

Appeals Board members Richard Zullo, John Christoforo, Michael Dantone and Joseph DeSisto voted unanimously in denying both proposals to light up Lower Broadway with signage, citing the opposition of residents and concern about the impact the billboards would have on traffic safety and quality of life issues in the area among other things.

“I’ve been a member of this board for 14 or 15 years,” said Joseph DeSisto. “And, the number one thing I’ve learned in all of my years on this board is that unless it effects you as an individual, you really don’t have the same interests in an issue.”

DeSisto and his fellow board members not only denied the petitions to “upgrade” existing billboards, including expanding the size and height of a billboard at 30 Broadway, but once they had held the public hearing, the board also rejected one petitioner’s request to withdraw his petitions without prejudice. They chose instead to deny all aspects of the requests.

During the public hearing on the requests, the board heard from three residents of the Lower Broadway area, all of whom provided a different reasons for opposing the billboards. The board also noted close to a dozen letters and emails it had received from other residents who were also in opposition to the billboards.

The owners of both billboards, Clear Channel and Boston Outdoor Ventures, can appeal the ZBA decision to the Massachusetts Supreme Court.