A proposal to amend the zoning regulations to allow six digital billboards along Interstate 95 in Milford failed for a second time, with the Planning and Zoning Board voting 5-5 at its July 20 meeting.

Changing the zoning regulations requires at least six board members to vote in support of a regulation in order for it to be adopted. The motion to approve had included the condition that digital billboard applications require a special permit and a public hearing.

The board had continued the public hearing from its June 2 public hearing with the intent of reviewing studies and taking public comment regarding the safety of digital billboards. The July 20 hearing essentially was a repeat of the July 2 hearing with local businesses speaking in favor of them and most residents speaking in opposition, and many of the same people speaking at both hearings.

Prior to the vote, board member Joseph Castignoli said 18 of the 22 studies the board reviewed were negative with regard to the safety of these billboards.

“The evidence is this is really not a safe thing to do,” said Castignoli.

Also voting against the regulation change was board member Jim Kader, who said he has found himself looking at billboards while driving. Kader commented that while he could use the billboards for his own business, he asked, “Are we representing the people of Milford, other than the business people?” adding, “I think the bulk of Milford is not for it.”

Attorney Kevin Curseaden submitted and resubmitted the application on behalf of his client, Dominic DeMartino, who owns an industrial building at 45 Banner Drive, which has a billboard facing the northbound lanes of I-95. At the board’s Dec. 17, 2019, meeting, the vote was 5-4 in favor of adopting revised zoning regulations to allow digital billboards along I-95, but the measure failed because six or more votes are needed to pass a regulation change.

Curseaden said he brought the proposal back to the board because the proposal needs six votes out of 10 to pass, and when the vote took place on Dec. 17, 2019, only nine board members were present. He said there has also been a change with three new board members. He said the package addresses questions and concerns related to lighting and traffic safety, commenting that the previous hearings made the application team aware of the major concerns of board members.

The proposal would have created new sections to the zoning regulations under Section 5.2 Exterior Lighting Regulations, and Section 5.3 Sign Regulations that detail the specifications for electronic digital billboard signs, describe permitted locations, and include limits on how much light they can project. The regulations would have been limited to the conversion of existing “commercial advertising signs,” and would not allow an increase in non-conformity related to “height, distance, size and location requirements.”

The display would have to face the I-95 corridor “at an angle of 90 degrees or less at the point nearest the sign structure” and be “located no more than a distance of 200 feet from the I-95 Corridor.”

In the 2019 proposal, the regulation would have applied to these zoning districts: the Limited Industrial (LI), Corridor Design Development Districts (CDD) 1, 3 and 5, and also the Interchange Commercial District (ICD) and the Industrial District (ID). The new proposal limits the change to the LI, CDD-1 and the ID zoning districts.

The change would have affected the following six billboards: There is a double-sized billboard in front of the building at 58-60 Research Drive, and a single-sided billboard behind the building, as viewed from the northbound on-ramp from Woodmont Road. Along the highway, a double-sized billboard is adjacent to the building at 84 Research Drive, and a double-sided billboard is next to a building at 116 Research Drive. These Research Drive properties in the ID zone all are owned by D’Amato Investments LLC.

There is a double-sided billboard in the state Department of Transportation right of way between the Metro-North Railroad tracks and the southbound lanes of I-95, near 270 Rowe Ave., located in the LI zone. Finally, on the property of Gloria Commons Condominiums, 590 West Ave. in the CDD-1 zone, is a billboard adjacent to the northbound I-95 lanes, but is visible only from the southbound lanes.