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North Haven PZC rejects digital billboards along I-91



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NORTH HAVEN — The Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously denied a request to amend the town’s zoning regulations to allow digital billboards. 

Commission members acknowledged the billboards would be good for business but said they still had concerns that, in their minds, outweighed the benefits. 

“I’m still not convinced it’s the right thing for the town,” alternate Mark Parisi said, during the PZC’s Nov. 13 meeting. 

Dominick DeMartino, owner of DeMartino Outdoor Media of Wallingford, asked the PZC to allow three overlay districts for digital billboards, meaning the PZC would essentially allow for additional uses in certain parts of already zoned areas. In this case, the overlays would have covered industrial zones along I-91. The proposal would have allowed DeMartino or another company to apply for a special permit to erect a billboard. 

DeMartino also proposed conditions to limit where billboards could be placed, including requiring a 750-foot radius — more than 500-foot distance required by the state — between billboards.  PZC members said they were still worried billboards wouldn’t fit the town’s image. 

“I notice when you leave the last billboard in New Haven coming north and it’s like a period of relative quiet visually, and I value that,” alternate Roderick Williams said. 

Members also expressed concern about safety, saying the billboards would likely distract drivers. DeMartino and his attorney, Dennis Ceneviva of Meriden, provided a study to the PZC from the Federal Highway Authority that determined digital billboards didn’t present a hazard. Residents presented other studies that disagreed. 

PZC member Brian Cummings also expressed environmental concerns, noting the digital billboards require electricity to operate. Companies would also need to cut down trees to make the billboards visible. 

“I don’t particularly like doing that to North Haven, putting up billboards in North Haven,” he said. 

Commission Chairman Vern Carlson initially asked for a motion to approve the amendment, but no motion came. The PZC then voted 5-0 on a separate motion to deny the request. The vote comes after a public hearing that lasted two months. DeMartino worked to build support, including several business owners who urged the PZC to approve the change. Carslon credited DeMartino with building support and providing information along with his application. Ultimately, though, he sided with the rest of the commission.



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