Egg Harbor Township planners will consider a revised plan Monday for a controversial LED billboard on the Margate Causeway, and will hear from people opposed to the billboard.
Superior Court Judge William C. Todd ruled Friday that the Planning Board must allow an attorney for the plantiffs in an ongoing lawsuit against the billboard’s presence to present evidence at the public hearing.
While the board’s hearing will continue as planned, the decision states that the court retains jurisdiction in the case. A management conference is scheduled next month.
In April, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a notice of violation against Jersey Outdoor Media over the 60-foot-tall billboard, citing unauthorized development in a coastal wetland area. But on Thursday, the DEP issued a Coastal Area Facilities Review Act permit after developers revised their site plan.
The new plan would move the billboard’s pole about 24 feet west of its current location, with the facade cantilevered over the wetlands.
Township officials have said the DEP’s permit approval will factor into the deliberations, but the billboard’s opponents say several zoning requirements — including a requirement that billboards be spaced 1,000 feet apart — would still preclude the billboard’s construction.
Stephen Hankin, attorney for Richard and Deborah Levitt, said the court order means the board must listen to all arguments. The Levitts, whose Northfield home abuts the bay, filed a lawsuit in April seeking to remove the billboard.
“I’m very hopeful and confident that the board will listen to all the arguments and make a decision now that it knows of the negative environmental impacts,” he said.
Hankin said the DEP permit ignores a prior draft that cited the destruction of “scenic resources” in its denial.
Chet Atkins, president of Jersey Outdoor Media, said his company has complied with everything the judge has asked.
“The changes will be made within a couple days after the judge approves it,” he said.
Atkins said he doesn’t know how the first billboard came to be built on wetlands, in violation of state regulations.
“If they want to be strict about it, all three marinas would have to be dug up and they’d be putting everyone out of business,” he added.
Atkins said he’s confident the billboard will eventually be completed and turned on.
“We’re going to build our sign the way it’s supposed to be built, and we’re going to move on with life,” he said.
Contact Wallace McKelvey:
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What: EHT Planning Board meeting
When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Township Hall, 3515 Bargaintown Road
More info: Call the township at 609-926-4000