Milford rejects plan for digital billboards

MILFORD — Dominic DeMartino’s proposal to turn six billboards digital along Interstate 95 has once again denied.

Similar proposals had also been rejected in 2019 and 2020.

To digitize the billboards, a zoning change had to be approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission. along the Interstate 95 corridor.

City Planner David Sulkis said at the last meeting, P&Z had requested city staff to come up with a motion changing the language of the proposed regulation to include making it a special permit.

“In the original language, if you had a billboard that met the criteria, as outlined in the proposal, the applicant could just come in and get a zoning permit over the counter and a building permit,” he said. “Making it a special permit would come to you for a special permit and site plan review to the extent that site plan reviews, are covered in this.”

Before the commissioners closed the public hearing, several residents spoke against the proposal, while more than 30 submitted letters to the board stating their opposition.

The change would have affected the two billboards at 58-60 Research Drive, one adjacent to 84 Research Drive, one next to a building at 116 Research Drive, the sign in the state DOT right of way between the Metro-North Railroad tracks and one on the southbound lanes of I-95, near 270 Rowe Ave.

One of the concerns of Robert Satti and other P&Z members was if the regulation change passes, it could lead to other parts of the city having billboards on them because they will have set a standard.

“What would stop that is the regulation before you because it is very specific where they can be located,” said Sulkis. “Anybody can come to you at any time and petition you for a regulation change for anything.”

Joseph Castignoli also opposed the digital billboards and said he’s concerned about safety because the entire premise is to catch someone's attention while they’re driving 70 MPH.

Chairman Jim Quish said he did not have a problem with the proposed change.

“Anecdotally, I’ve spent a real lot of my life on highways driving around, and I find an electronic billboard less distracting,” he said

He said he did not think approval of the electronic billboards would set a precedent because future applications would come from different applicants and would include new zone change language.

DeMartino had also proposed modernizing one on land adjacent to 590 West Ave., next to the Gloria Commons, but that one was removed during the meeting after he heard concerns from a representative of that development.

John Mortimer thanked DeMartino for removing one of the signs, but said the change did not affect the proposal very much.

“I do appreciate the exclusion of the Gloria Commons billboard, but I think this is substantially the same proposal that has been voted down a couple of times already, and I’m inclined to also vote against it,” said Mortimer.