I am writing to stir public participation in the effort to remove the monstrosity on the meadows - the oversized, overlit billboard on the Margate Causeway, scheduled to be lit 24 hours a day.
It is difficult to decide what is the more egregious, the sign itself or the process by which it was approved and by which some are now retroactively attempting to make it legal.
At a recent Egg Harbor Township Planning Board meeting, several things became evident. The first is that Dr. Richard Levitt, who has taken on the task of removing this abomination, has spent considerable time and money doing the job that should have been done by the Planning Board.
The list of discrepancies he has uncovered include: no Department of Environmental Protection permit, illegal filling of wetlands, a survey submitted by the sign company that omitted the wetlands in question, work that continued after a cease-and-desist order was issued and the absence of a filed lighting plan. Were these things ignored, or were EHT officials ignorant of their own requirements? Was no review done? Were no inspections made?
EHT failed to notify any other concerned municipality that such a sign was being considered. Under the letter of the law this may not be required, but I would like to think consideration of those who were to be most directly affected would have been given. No one living in EHT can see the sign. Those on Bay Avenue in Northfield can't avoid it. The city councils of Northfield and Margate have passed resolutions condemning the sign.
The second conclusion is that the members of the board seem thoroughly vested in seeing that the sign remains regardless of any adverse effect on people's lives. Were you to listen to a tape of the proceedings, you might easily suppose members of the board were actually consultants for the sign company.
How is it that none of these board members caught any of the discrepancies? Why is the board more concerned about seeing if Levitt's lighting consultant has a certified meter than in the petition from residents of Bay Avenue saying they couldn't sleep due to the flashing lights (every eight seconds) on the sign?
A Planning Board is supposed to review construction projects, consider positive and negative aspects and apply zoning ordinances in such a way as to ensure no detrimental effects on the municipality and its citizens. I urge the planning board to tear down this sign.
JAMES M. SHIPPEN