FLEMINGTON, NJ – The public hearing on a plan to erect electronic billboards on a traffic circle here that had been scheduled for this evening has been cancelled.
The developer – Catalyst Outdoor Development, LLC – calls the project a “living wall.” The “wall” would include what the application calls “message boards” to be built on the former Zippy Lube site on Route 202 South, which is now the home of Nod’s Auto on Flemington’s large traffic circle.
Mayor Betsy Driver said the cancellation was made at the developer’s request because its planner was not available for the meeting this evening.
All the signs exceed the zone’s maximum permitted height limit of 4 feet, according to the application on file with the borough. Each of them also exceeds the maximum permitted height of 8 feet from grade.
The application describes signs that would be about 14-feet in height and rise from 22 feet to 24 feet above grade. The message boards would be more than 730 square feet and a cut metal sign would be about 11-feet tall and 622 square feet.
The Planning Board next meets on Sept. 3, but it isn’t clear that the hearing will be held then, either.
Resident Steve Tuccio said he was “totally blindsided” by the billboard plan, which “popped up” after the borough spent months updating its sign ordinance. Postponement of the hearing on the project “looks like a deliberate plan to move this meeting to sometime … during the holiday weekend where there will be less opportunity, people will be on vacation … it’s a thinly-veiled attempt to suppress people going to that meeting.
“It doesn’t pass the sniff test,” he said.
Flemington Councilperson Chris Runion, who is also a member of the borough’s Environmental Commission, noted at last night’s Council meeting that when the sign application was deemed complete – with conditions – by the Planning Board on Aug. 5, the Board required an Environmental Impact Statement for the project to be reviewed by the Commission. After the Commission reviewed the information and submitted a letter to the Planning Board, the developer submitted “several documents … that leaves the Commission’s review incomplete,” he said.
Runion said he has asked the Planning Board to postpone its review of the project until the Commission “can complete its review.” He said he’s waiting for a “final decision” from the Board on his request.
Resident Lois Stewart said she hopes the Planning Board will approve the delay. “I certainly think that a project of that size should have everybody’s eyes on it because it’s such a monstrosity,” she said.
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