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Chelmsford billboard project ends with state denial
By Jesse A. Floyd/Wicked Local staff writer
GateHouse News Service
Posted Sep 06, 2012 @ 12:50 PM
The four-year effort to construct billboards on town-owned land along Route 3 is over after the state upheld the denial of a permit to the advertising company, Capital Advertising.
According to Town Manger Paul Cohen, Capital representatives sent an email Wednesday afternoon, announcing the end of the company’s bid to build the billboards.
“It seems this four-year saga is over,” Cohen said.
Capital Advertising, the company chosen by bid, was first denied a permit in 2011. At the time, the Department of Transportation’s Office of Outdoor Advertising cited three reasons for denying the permit:
The site is not of business character
Two businesses are not visible from Route 3 and no business takes place within 500 feet of the sign
Federal law does not recognize Chelmsford’s new zoning bylaw creating a “Billboard overlay district.”
On Aug. 28, the department of transportation upheld that decision.
To get to this stage, there had been votes at two different Town Meetings, first creating the overlay district; then leasing the land from the school department.
Next, the project was put out to bid, with Capital winning the project.
“It’s disappointing, but at this time, it looks like the end of billboard consideration in Chelmsford,” Cohen said.
When first considered, the revenue from the sign near the high school — $78,000 per year — was enticing. With a second billboard site at Oak Hill, the chance to add much-needed cash to town coffers helped propel the bylaw change to a 2/3-majority vote at Town Meeting. But the vote was razor-thin.
Now, with the town and state on better financial footing, the urgency for the added revenue has waned, Cohen said.
Cohen lauded the efforts of the people and committees behind researching and writing the overlay district.
The ruling does seem to solve one issue: The Oak Hill Study Committee, which is trying to determine the best use for the North Chelmsford parcel, now doesn’t have the billboard question to wrangle.
Copyright 2012 Chelmsford Independent. Some rights reserved