The Margate Causeway billboard will be discussed in court today as opponents seek to challenge the Egg Harbor Township Planning Board's ruling earlier this year supporting it.

Egg Harbor Township approved the LED billboard in early 2011, but the 600-square-foot structure was shut down June 1, 2011, after nearby Northfield residents complained about the powerful nighttime glow and state Department of Environmental Protection officials ruled it had been improperly built on wetlands.

Jersey Outdoor Media proposed to move the billboard to another part of the property, and Egg Harbor Township's Planning Board agreed to the proposal in March.

The billboard has remained dark, with the approval challenged in court by some of the same neighbors who have opposed it.

At issue, said their attorney, Steve Hankin, are four points:

•Does the township's laws permit a billboard in that area, which is zoned for marine-commercial businesses?

•If so, can a property be used for more than one thing?

•Furthermore, if a billboard is permitted, does it conflict with the township's overall master plan, and is it therefore invalid?

•Finally, Hankin said, did the Planning Board properly interpret an ordinance requiring a buffer between billboards?

Hankin declined to comment on the case because it will be before Superior Court Judge Julio L. Mendez at 2 p.m. Peter J. Boyer, attorney for Jersey Outdoor Media, did not return a call seeking comment.

Chet Atkins, president of Jersey Outdoor Media, pledged to fight as long as possible to build the billboard, saying the litigation has seemed "frivolous."

He is "getting a little tired of it," Atkins said of the delays. "It's just, in America, I think when you get your permits, you should be allowed to build something."

Contact Derek Harper:


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