Going up: Edison zoners approve high-tech billboard at Tano Mall


EDISON — A billboard in the township is going high tech, thanks to a recent zoning board approval.

Wick Companies of Woodbridge applied for use variances to replace its existing one-sided billboard at the Tano Mall shopping center with a larger, higher, two-sided electronic billboard with two cellar antennae.

One side of the billboard will be dynamic; the other side will be static, with the static side facing Pierson Avenue.

Tano Mall is located in the general business zone at 1199 Amboy Ave.

“The purpose of the two-sided billboard is to provide visibility from both north as well as southbound lanes of Route 1,” James Clarkin, the attorney for Wick explained at the Aug. 18 zoning board meeting.

Clarkin said the billboard has to be raised to 60 feet — the antennae would extend an additional 3 1/2 feet — because visibility is limited now by both the salt dome and pedestrian walkway constructed since the original billboard was erected.

He said Wick originally wanted a 71-foot billboard, but has since downgraded to 60 feet, which is about double the current structure.

According to Robert Paulus, owner of Wick Enterprises — which owns Tano Mall — the purpose of the signage would be to promote existing retailers. The signage could also attract future retailers to Tano Mall, particularly in light of Pathmark’s anticipated departure from nearby Wick Shopping Plaza, which is also owned by Wick, and an uncertain future for A&P in Tano. Paulus said other improvements are in progress for both properties.

Paulus got some pushback on the frequency of the sign’s rotation, and he and the board compromised at a half-hour rotation schedule.

The project didn’t face much opposition from the public, but resident Ester Nemitz brought up two points for consideration.

She said that while the impact to properties on Pierson Avenue had been considered and residents were provided notice of the project, the impact on residents of Starkin Road, who would see the dynamic side of the board, had not.

“I do want to point out that it is going to make a change for those residents on Starkin,” she said. “I doubt if they knew about it.”

Clarkin said he thought it was telling that the people who live on Pierson would be closer to the billboard, and no one from that street had voiced opposition to it. He said the billboard would be more than 700 feet away from the Starkin residents, who actually should benefit from the change, as the lighting on the electronic billboard will be softer.

Nemitz also said this property was inside the area the Township Council had designated on Amboy Avenue as being in need of rehabilitation. That resolution is currently with the Planning Board for review.

Board Engineer Henry Bignell said he was unaware of the effort, but added that he did not think any such designation would have an impact on the billboard and cell phone towers.

The board had positive feedback on the application.

“I personally think this is a positive thing for the neighborhood,” Board Chairman Leonard Sendelsky said. “I think it’s going to help the viability of the two shopping centers.”

Board member Philip Taglianetti said raising the sign would actually improve safety on Route 1.

“The sign at the level it is now is a real danger,” he said.

The five board members in attendance voted unanimously to approve the application.