hot topic red bank njA plan for a giant digital billboard at the northern gateway to Red Bank is the subject of a proposal before the zoning board Thursday night.

The applicant, Outfront Media LLC, leases the property, a vacant former gas station at 187 Riverside Avenue, from owners Jimmy and Luz Marie Gambacorto of Middletown.

Situated at the foot of the Route 35 Cooper’s Bridge, the property is widely seen as an eyesore, though the location is considered a primo spot for advertising, as it faces all southbound traffic across the Navesink River from Middletown.

Outfront’s plan to replace two existing static billboards there with a one giant digital display¬†needs zoning board approval because new billboard signs are not permitted in any zone in the borough. The existing ones are “grandfathered” as nonconforming uses that predate the ban.

The sign would measure almost 12 feet high by 40 feet wide, for a total area of nearly 453 square feet. An illustration with the application shows the billboard mounted atop a steel column nearly 26 feet tall and topping out at 40 feet.

It would replace a recently removed roof-mounted billboard, totaling 288 square feet, and a ground-mounted billboard, at 480 square feet, Outfront’s attorney, Jennifer Krimko, wrote in the application.

The new structure, located inches from the southern property line, would feature a digital sign face with LED (lighted-emitting diode) “multi-message technology.”

Messaging would change every eight seconds, in conformance with New Jersey Department of Transportation regulations, she said. Images will not be animated, blink or flash.

“Importantly, the ability to immediately and remotely change sign copy makes LED signs ideal for posting emergency alerts such as Amber Alerts, police notices, and weather warnings as well as all other public service announcements,” Krimko wrote.¬† “Furthermore, the LED technology permits Outfront to offer the Borough, as a public service, the ability to use the Modernized Sign for its own emergency and certain municipal public interest advertising purposes.

“Finally, visible from vehicles crossing the Route 35 Coopers Bridge from Middletown, this modern technology will permit the Modernized Sign to also act as a ‘gateway,’ welcoming visitors to the Borough, similar to the digital sign on Route 35 at Belmar’s marina,” she wrote.

Formerly known as Jimmie’s Service Station, the business operated under the Raceway brand for 20 years before it shut down in 2010. Another retailer followed, doing business as Bridge Avenue Gas, but didn’t last long.

The property gets special attention in borough’s pending Master Plan, up for a second public hearing and likely adoption by the planning board February 6. The document specifically addresses the site on page 96 as part of a “small-area plan” for the gateway area.

The board meets at 6:30 p.m. in the council chamber at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. Live viewing via Zoom is available, though only in-person attendees may ask questions or comment.

(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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