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The Community Development Board felt it did not have enough information to vote on a proposed electronic billboard.

Electronic Billboard in Pittsfield Raises Safety Concerns

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Ward 3 City Councilor Nicholas Caccamo opposed the electronic billboard at Tuesday's Community Development Board meeting.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Community Development Board is worried about a proposed electronic billboard on East Street.

The board continued its hearing Tuesday night in hopes of receiving additional information from the developer. Lamar Advertising is proposing the county's first electronic billboard to be placed at the intersection of East Street and Elm Street.

But with a high volume of pedestrians in that area, including from Pittsfield High School, the Community Development Board is worried that it could be a hazard.

"I can see motorist being attracted to the sign and not see the children," said Louis Costi.

Board members felt the site plan wasn't specific because it didn't include the location of the posts, the size and dimensions of the billboard, and the directions it would be facing.

They asked the developer to return to the board with more specifics.

"I don't feel like I have the information to vote on this," said Craig Strassel

David Leavitt, who represented Lamar, said the sign "isn't very bright" and has never cause additional traffic safety hazards anywhere else. The sign changes every six seconds, he said, and can also be used for such things as Amber Alerts.

"It's not something you'd see in Vegas or anywhere like that. It is very subdued," Leavitt said. "It's not very bright."

But his assertion didn't alleviate concerns from residents in the area. Ward 3 City Councilor Nicholas Caccamo said he received many phone calls from concerned citizens.

"It's a high pedestrian traffic area eight months out of the year," Caccamo told the board. "I do not support the construction and placement of this billboard."

A resident who did not identify himself to the board said he is always distracted by electronic billboards when he travels.

"I can't keep myself from looking at the signs," he said. "We don't need a combination of distracted drivers and distracted pedestrians."

In other business, the board approved a special permit for a mini self-storage warehouse to be constructed at the Pittsfield Plaza on West Housatonic Street. Pittsfield Plaza had already went through the process to change the zoning to allow it and returned seeking the special permit.

"We're very excited about the project," said developer Joseph Genzano.

The 13.5-acre parcel formerly housed a movie theater and retail stores. In one corner of the property, 40,000 square feet will be redeveloped into the self-storage business. Genzano said the entire building will receive an upgraded facade to help attract other businesses to the plaza.

"We want to see a place that is alive," Genzano said.

The board also approved Tuesday night Arrowhead's request to bring farming back to Herman Melville's former home.

Tags: billboard,   commercial development,   farming,   

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