American Tower’s Billboard Experiment Gets Reconsidered

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Last week, the Woburn City Council voted unanimously to grant American Tower the withdrawal of zoning legislation that would have allowed the company to install two, 80-foot tall digital billboards along I-93, reported the Daily Times Chronicle.

The decision was granted for the proposed zoning change “without prejudice,” allowing American Tower to resubmit the request at a future date. Under the zoning amendment, American Tower had sought to legalize billboards within the IP2 and OP-93 districts, reported the Chronicle.  A company spokesperson told Inside Towers they had recently purchased some billboards and were in the early stages of their development and wanted to be sensitive to the opinions of the community.

City officials noted billboards had been banned in Woburn since the 1970s due to aesthetic concerns and are considered a public safety hazard. Officials have opposed the proposal since it was introduced in early March. Following a public hearing in April, the Planning Board unanimously recommended unfavorable action on the project, reported the Chronicle.

American Tower representative Brandon Ruotolo explained that with the next generation 5G network on the horizon, the firm had taken an interest in the advertising and billboard industry. Ruotolo believes the medium can be revolutionized through the development of internet-equipped signs that interact with cell phone users.

“A cell-tower is a lot like an outdoor advertising structure in that it has to be wirelessly enabled, but within the industry, no one has developed a solution where you can move information from a billboard to a user,” said Ruotolo.

Despite his efforts, Planning Board members granted withdrawal of the zoning amendment.

May 14, 2019

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