Billboard owners take dispute to BSA

Companies fought over whose signs were grandfathered. BSA denied Lamar Outdoor Advertising’s appeal of Buildings’ decision to revoke permits for two back-to-back billboards at 50 South Bridge Street in Charleston, Staten Island.

The City’s zoning code prohibits advertising signs within 200 feet of an arterial highway unless it is on a highway that crosses New York City limits within a one-half-mile distance from the sign. The code also prohibits a sign within 500 feet of another advertising sign.

In 1994, a prior owner of 50 South Bridge Street obtained permits for two non-advertising signs to announce the business located on the lot. After receiving the permits, the owner illegally converted the business signs to billboards. In April 2004, after Lamar obtained ownership, Buildings determined that the signs had been converted without permits and were only 320 feet away from another advertising sign owned by Communiquez, LLC.

Because Lamar’s signs existed before 2000, however, Buildings determined that the signs were grandfathered and had priority over the signs owned by Communiquez. Buildings ordered Communiquez to remove its sign.

Communiquez responded by submitting a professional survey, showing that Lamar’s signs were too far from the city boundary and consequently could not be grandfathered. According to Communiquez, the Army Corps of Engineers placed the city boundary in the middle of the Arthur Kill River between the New York and New Jersey state lines. Lamar countered that its signs qualified because the appropriate boundary was the river’s pierhead line, the distance in the water to which a pier’s edge can be built.

Buildings denied Lamar’s pierhead line argument and revoked the permits. Lamar appealed the decision to BSA, reiterating its argument. BSA disagreed with Lamar, noting that the City’s administrative code places the boundary in the middle of the Arthur Kill River and the pierhead line may only be used to construe zoning districts, not city boundaries.

BSA: 50 South Bridge Street (30-06-A) (May 9, 2006) (Deborah Glikin, for DOB; Eric Hecker, for Lamar). CITYADMIN

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