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Phillipsburg moves forward with ordinance to ban digital billboards

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 16 2013 11:29:28 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 17 2013 06:52:02 AM CDT
PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. -

Hoping to learn a lesson from their neighbors to the west, Phillipsburg Town Council unanimously passed a first reading of an ordinance that would place restrictions on digital billboards during Tuesday night’s meeting.

A final vote will come at a later date.

The stimulus behind the ordinance can be directly traced back to Palmer Township, according to comments made Tuesday night.

“I think it’s important that we are ahead of the curve instead of being behind the curve,” noted Mayor Harry Wyant Jr. on the issue.

The ordinance would amend Chapter 625 of the town’s zoning code and would prohibit programmable electronic signs “in all residential zones with the exception of signs serving public or institutional uses or used by a governmental agency to display public service information.”

Further, the ordinance states that “programmable electronic signs that are locate on property adjacent to a residential district shall be turned off between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.” And that “animated messages or videos, including flashing, blinking, fading, rolling, shading, dissolving, or any other effect that gives the appearance of movement are prohibited.”

In addition, the “transition from one message to another message shall appear instantaneous as perceived by the human eye,” and the minimum spacing between programmable electronic signs shall be 200 feet.

Recently some residents in Palmer Township raised complaints about a digital billboard along Route 22 for violating light pollution laws.

In other business Tuesday night, a public hearing was held on the 2013 Municipal Budget, which was lauded by members of council and Wyant for a modest tax increase on residents of less than one percent, which according to Council President Bernie Fey, Jr., is the lowest tax increase on residents in 14 years.

He added that the budget was a “devoured carcass” in an effort to describe how expenses had been kept to a minimum.

“I’m feeling pretty good about it,” noted Councilman Todd Tersigni.

“This is a responsible budget with a minimal increase without losing any services,” said Councilman John Lynn, Jr.