Owner’s sought to install on a single pole a 9,000 square foot of billboard space capable of running 54 separate advertisements. In February 2018, Baychester Retail III LLC filed applications with Buildings to install a 9,164 square foot LED billboard made of 27 two-sided panels mounted on one pole on a commercial property located near Co-op City, in the Baychester neighborhood of the Bronx near the New England Thruway. The large billboard would be capable of displaying 54 video screen advertisements, since each of the 27 panels could display advertisements on both sides.
The owner claimed that each of the screens was a separate sign with less than the maximum 322 square feet of surface area that the Department of Buildings allowed for a single billboard. The Department of Buildings denied the applications, ruling the panels created one single sign with a surface area of 9,164 square feet because the 27 panels were mounted on one pole. The total area exceeded the permissible surface area of 322 square feet. The City’s Board of Standards and Appeals affirmed Buildings’ decision.
The owner filed an article 78 petition challenging the decision. The Supreme Court upheld the Board of Standards and Appeals’ denial, agreed that the 27 panels made up one large structure, and dismissed the petition.
The Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed. The court reasoned that the 27 panels would be coordinated to project a single, 9,000 square foot advertisement, not 27 small, individual advertisements. Additionally, the court found that although each of the 27 panels was individually affixed to the structure, the 27 panels were all pieces of one single structure. Further, the “massive” sign would be hazardous for drivers on the New England Thruway and would disrupt the residents of Co-Op City.
Baychester Retail, III, LLC v. Perlmutter, 120 N.Y.S.3d 322 (1st Dep’t 2020).
By: Victoria Agosta (Victoria is a former CityLaw intern and a New York Law School student, Class of 2022.)