HAZLET – The outdoor advertising company seeking permission to replace its static billboards at the Hazlet Avenue jughandle with a pole-supported digital billboard has been asked to come back before the Hazlet Planning Board on March 7 with more visuals.
The billboard sign is proposed to stand 44 feet high with two sign faces that measure 10.5 feet x 35 feet, or 375 square feet per sign face. It would appear on the other side of the highway from another digital billboard at Cerlione’s Garden Center.
Representatives of Outdoor Media appeared before the board on Feb. 21 to seek a use variance for the new billboard design on its property between the jughandle and the vacant Friendly’s building.
But after two hours of testimony, board members still had questions about the size, placement and potential impact on the adjoining property owners. “I think we need see renderings of what the sign is going to look like,” said board attaorney Greg Vella, speaking on behalf of the members. “Seems like we’re looking at things in the abstract, and not seeing it.”
Vella suggested the applicant’s counsel, Louis L. D’Arminio of Price, Meese, Shulman & D’Arminio in Woodcliff Lake, return with illustrations of that the billboards would look like at the existing location on the Hazlet Avenue jughandle and offer testimony why that would be unsuitable.
He also suggested he return with illustrations of it at their proposed location, which would be located closer to the Route 35 North. That way, the board would better understand how the placement of existing trees, telephone wires and proximity to neighbors.
There will also be testimony by the applicant’s professionals on March 7 as to the lighting plan for the sign.
An attorney representing Gold Square Properties, LLC observed the proceedings. Gold Square is the developer of the vacant Friendly’s property at 3201 Route 35 North which will be leased to a Starbucks drive-thru. A second tenant for the site has not yet been named.
Vella suggested the applicant address an issue of concern for past Friendly’s owners, that of visibility. It has been a challenge to alert customers that there is only one way in to the restaurant site. The exit is through the Best Western hotel parking lot. They have wanted more signage in the past.
In testimony, the general manager for Outfront Media New Jersey office, John Antal, gave a brief history of the site that currently maintains the four 276-foot billboards at the Hazlet Avenue jughandle – two facing Route 35 North and two facing Route 35 South. “Our records indicate the property actually has had signs on it since at least the 1940s,” he said.
Outfront, a publicly traded company, operates 3,900 outdoor displays in New Jersey. Sixty-nine of them, or one percent, are digital, he said. The digital boards change every 8 seconds, and have 8 messages in an advertising loop. There are no animations, movement or flashing lights, Antal said. The company donates time to charities like the Valerie Fund, Make-A-Wish, state warnings like FBI Most Wanted and storm alerts, and offers some public messaging for the towns.
He showed a Dept. of Transportation permit issued in 2018 indicating officials have reviewed and approved Outfront’s plan for the Hazlet location.
The March 7 meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at municipal hall meeting room.