Should Digital Billboards Be Allowed In Mahwah?
There is currently no law regarding them; board discusses whether or not there should be
Should LED-lit billboards line Route 17 in Mahwah?
The township’s planning board pondered that question Monday night as part of its reworking of Mahwah’s Master Plan. The document, which lays out the town’s goals and objectives, makes suggestions for future development.
According to Board Attorney Peter Scandariato, the recommendations made in the Master Plan have no legal weight, unless the town council takes the suggestions put forth in the document and crafts new laws that are in line with them. After Monday’s meeting, the board decided to include in the new Master Plan a clause urging the council to create a new sign ordinance that is sensitive to light pollution on billboards and other similar signs.
The discussion came up after board member Ward Donigian said he felt strongly about limiting the possibility of electronically-lit or digital billboards popping up throughout the township. “We don’t have an ordinance that addresses this, so companies looking to put these up will look for towns that don’t disallow it, and we will become the guinea pig,” he said. “I think we should be proactive on this instead of reactive, unless we want to turn Route 17 into Las Vegas.”
Mayor Bill Laforet cautioned that including this condition in the Master Plan “might be restricting technology in the future. This document is going to be around a long time, and I don’t know that we can mandate technology.” He also pointed out that many signs in the township already use LED and other lighting technologies.
Other board members said they did not wish to see the restriction of all lit signs, just LED billboards, similar to those found on the NJ Turnpike and other major roadways.
If the town council did decide to pass a law on this, board members said it would be a part of the township’s sign ordinance, which came under scrutiny last year during election season. At the time, members of the town council said the current law was vague, and needed to be refined, though no official changes have been made to it since then.