Egg Harbor Township planners will consider a revised plan Tuesday for a controversial LED billboard on the Margate Causeway.
The Planning Board heard testimony about the billboard, located in a marshy area between Margate and Northfield, last month after multiple delays and postponements. Officials are now scheduled to vote on the application.
Initially approved by the board in 2011, the billboard has been the subject of litigation between the developers and Richard Levitt, a Northfield resident and chairman of that city’s Planning Board.
In April, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a violation against Moorestown-based Jersey Outdoor Media for unauthorized development in a wetland after the company built its 60-foot-tall billboard in the marsh between Margate City and Northfield.
The DEP later issued a Coastal Area Facility Review Act permit after the developer submitted revised plans. The new plan calls for moving the billboard’s pole 24 feet west of its current location and cantilevering the sign over the wetlands.
Levitt said he plans to make the case to planners that the billboard is not a permitted use and that township-mandated distance requirements are still not met by the amended site plan.
He also plans to call experts to testify that the brightly lit billboard is a distraction to motorists and out of character in the natural setting.
“It’s a disgrace,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. “It doesn’t belong there.”
Peter Boyer, an attorney for the developers, said he believes the amended site plan complies with local codes.
“Our hope is that the Planning Board will favorably consider the application we have before it,” he said. “I don’t usually have expectations other than we (will bring) the evidence we have and hope the board will favorably act upon it.”
Boyer declined to respond to Levitt’s specific claims.
“We’re going to present (our evidence) to the board, rather than in the public,” he said.
The future of the case will likely rest on the board’s decision. If the new site plan is approved, Levitt said, he plans to continue with litigation. He has filed an appeal of the DEP’s decision, which is still pending.
Levitt, who works as a periodontist, said he has spent many thousands of dollars fighting the billboard. His passion, he said, is due to both the billboard’s impact on his nearby home and his belief it was improperly pushed through the planning process.
“What it tells me is that if you have enough money and you’re willing to challenge something in court long enough, it doesn’t matter how deceptive you are,” he said. “It offends me at the deepest level.”
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