Fate of new Camden billboard in the hands of the mayor

Many who live in the Coopers Grant neighborhood don’t want it.

David Madden
October 03, 2018 - 1:44 pm
Benjamin Franklin Bridge

Haveseen/Dreamstime.com

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CAMDEN, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Residents of North Camden are hoping Mayor Frank Moran turns down a plan to erect an electronic billboard in their neighborhood.

The proposed billboard would sit more than 150 feet in the air at Elm Street and Delaware Avenue, near the site of the long gone state prison along the waterfront. It would be seen by drivers on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge.

The area has been rezoned as residential, and many of those living in the Coopers Grant neighborhood don’t want it.

“It’s important to have beautiful places, open green spaces that are not littered with visual pollution,” said Betsy Clifford, executive director of Camden Lutheran Housing, a group opposed to the billboard.

Interstate Outdoor Advertising, which has tried to put billboards up in the neighborhood before, applied for the zoning variance in April. They came up with a novel idea, promising to donate revenue from the billboard to local charities. Conservative estimates put an annual donation in the $200,000 range.

“There’s something called beneficial use,” spokesman Don Sico said, “and we were able to prove those benefits that would support non-profits throughout the entire city and the zoning board agreed with us.”

The board approved the proposal in a vote earlier this week. Opponents applaud the philanthropic offer, but want the billboard to go somewhere else.

Moran, who sat down this spring with Interstate when this idea was proposed, has given no clue when he’ll decide on the billboard’s fate.