July 24, 2016

Partly cloudy

Residents cast shadow over proposed lighted billboard

Residents who live near the Brunswick Industrial Park are fighting a proposed two-sided electronic billboard along the Interstate 71 corridor.

Residents say the 24-hour lighted sign will be an eyesore and distraction.

“It’s going to be bright and it’s going to be huge,” Louis DeCuzzie, president of the Benjamin Farm Home Owners Association. “It’s going to be a flashing repeating sign.”

The zoning variance was requested by David LeHotan who is asking the Brunswick Board of Zoning Appeals to approve the double-sided, 672 square-foot lighted signs — the equivalent of a 22-by-30-foot billboard — which would stand between 30 and 70 feet above the ground in the industrial park.

One sign would face northbound traffic, the other the southbound lanes. LeHotan’s company, Twenty Acres of Woods LLC, owns 19.5 acres of land in the northernmost part of the industrial park,

DeCuzzi said residents in his housing development directly to the north of the proposed sign were notified of the variance request and plan to make their voices heard at a Sept. 10 zoning appeals board meeting. He said they’re concerned the brightly lit sign will have a negative impact on their home values.

“About half of us own businesses in the industrial park,” DeCuzzi said. “We’re not anti-business, but we’re against our property values declining.

LeHotan did not return a phone call seeking comment.

This isn’t the first time DeCuzzi has opposed the electronic bulletin board — popularly called jumbotrons — in his neighborhood.

The request for a variance to construct the sign — needed because it does not conform to the city’s sign rules — first came to the board of zoning appeals in 2011.

Homeowners created a website, www.nosign.us, and campaigned against the proposal. DeCuzzi said they plan to continue to fight the new request before the zoning appeals board.

While the residents of the Benjamin Farm subdivision west of I-71 were told about the proposed sign, DeCuzzi said homeowners on the other side of the interstate off of North Carpenter Road weren’t required to be notified.

DeCuzzi said the sign might be more of a distraction to those on the east side of the interstate.

“They’re at a lower elevation and those signs are going to be pointed at southbound and northbound traffic,” he said. “Good luck seeing any stars at night.”

DeCuzzi and the homeowners association said they don’t intend to prohibit progress, but think the zoning appeals board has the authority to reject a variance request because it will not advertise local businesses.

“It is against the sign ordinance,” he said. “It’s not an accessory and it’s not related to the business.”

In 2011, LeHotan told the board and homeowners that he was working to secure a deal with Clear Channel to provide advertising spots on the sign’s LED screen.

DeCuzzi said the fact that local businesses wouldn’t be promoted or get advertising in exchange for the eyesore made it even more difficult to accept.

“We won’t have any control over what the sign says,” DeCuzzi said.

The board of zoning appeals meets at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 10 in the meeting room at Brunswick City Hall, 4095 Center Road.

Contact reporter Loren Genson at (330) 721-4063 or lgenson@medina-gazette.com.

Loren Genson About Loren Genson

Loren Genson was The Gazette's senior reporter. From August 2012 through September 2015, she covered Brunswick city and state and national government. To contact The Gazette, call the managing editor at (330) 721-4065.