Testimony Continues for L.E.D. Billboard for Route 80

Zoning Board Chair James Marinello in 2016 Credits: Melissa Benno
Possible location of a billboard showing onto Route 80 Credits: Courtesy of Google Maps

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Zoning Board of Adjustment considered another L.E.D. billboard at its June 7 meeting. This billboard is being proposed to show its message onto Route 80 from a lot located on Hook Mountain Road.

The board heard testimony from AMJM Holdings, which would like to install the billboard at 21 Hood Mountain Road, which is on the opposite side of the bridge from Bloomfield Avenue. This was the second time the board was hearing testimony on the application. The first testimony was heard at the April 5 meeting, at which time one of Outfront Media’s proposed Route 46 L.E.D. billboard applications was approved by the board, while the other was rejected. The second was approved at a later meeting, after changing the sign change time to 30 seconds. (Read about that here.)

The 80-foot sign would have a five-foot setback from Route 80 where 50 feet is required. It would have an access road from Hook Mountain in order for any required maintenance to be conducted. The sign would be installed by crane. AMJM is seeking underground electrical service from PSE&G.

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AMJM is seeking an eight-second change of messages on the billboard, which turned out to be a sticking point for approval with the Outfront Media application.

Jim Shimmin of Digital Products was sworn in as manufacturer for the sign and was asked by AMJM attorney John Wyciskala about visibility of the sign for those neighbors located on New Maple Ave., Karen Road, and the Changebridge Road bridge.

“The light impact will be minimal,” Shimmin said. “You won’t be able to measure any light output from there. With the deciduous trees coming down I would have to take another check on it. I would have to go back out on site. I would have to walk up the side of the freeway and check that.”

Board Professional Engineer Stan Omland asked about glow in the air, similar to a municipal ball field and Shimmin said there is a louver on the front that minimizes the sky glow, although on a cloudy, rainy night some glow would be seen.

Traffic Professional Engineer Joseph Staigar presented testimony stating that drivers do not dwell on signs for more than two seconds, which is the threshold at which hazardous driving is defined, he said. Omland asked about the size of the letters on the billboard and the distraction they represented, plus the distraction of phone numbers in the messages on the sign. Board Member Kenneth Shirkey opined that the studies presented were “kind of outdated.” Board Attorney Bruce Ackerman asked if rotating sign messages cause more distraction than fixed, and Staigar said, yes, .05 seconds, but this is still less than two seconds, which is allowed by the National Highway Administration, the minutes for the meeting state.

The testimony will continue at the Aug. 2 zoning board meeting.

This article was written from information from the April 5 meeting plus the minutes and recording from the June 7 meeting from the Montville Township website.

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