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Board rejects electronic billboard on McClellan Highway

Rendering of proposed billboard

Board says nope to glaring board, even with gussied up landscaping.

The Zoning Board of Appeal today rejected a proposal to replace two old-school billboards that advertise the Madonna Queen of the Universe Shrine on McClellan Highway in East Boston with a state-of-the-art electronic billboard that would beam electronic ads at passing motorists.

The board actually voted 4-3 in favor of the proposal by a billboard company on behalf of the Sons of Divine Providence, but state law requires at least 5 votes on zoning issues, so the proposal failed. Board members Hansy Better Barraza and Giovanny Valencia, along with Chairwoman Sherry Dong, voted against the proposed two-sided billboard, dooming it.

Last month, the board outright rejected a proposed billboard on the property of the Polish-American Citizens Club by the side of the Southeast Expressway in Dorchester.

At a hearing today, both proponents and opponents of the proposed East Boston billboard agreed the site where two signs now advertise the Madonna shrine is an eyesore.

One of the two current billboards:

Old Madonna billboard

Proponents, who included former City Councilor Sal LaMattina, who lives on Madonna Hill, said the new billboard would come with attractive new landscaping - and that the rent would help the mission maintain its charitable operations. They added that no residents live right next to the sign. City Councilor Erin Murphy, who supported the proposal, said it would even improve public safety because agencies could use it to flash out emergency messages, including Amber Alerts.

Opponents, however, said the land is now in an "urban wild" covered by conservation zoning aimed at preserving wildlife and that the zoning simply forbids billboards in such zones. Also, the brighter digital messages could distract McClellan Highway commuters, one resident said, adding that there's already a digital billboard a block away and that the Sons of Divine Providence should explore other options to raise funds, similar to the way they sold off their nursing home.



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What would Jesus say?

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the new billboard would come with attractive new landscaping - and that the rent would help the mission maintain its charitable operations

What complete bullshit. First of all, they don't pay property taxes and therefore shouldn't be allowed to have ANY ads on what is supposed to be community property. Second, the "attractive new landscaping" will be done exactly once, because they included it as the carrot for this proposal. Beginning with year 2, they'll claim they don't have the money again. And then on year 3, they'll say if we let them have a second digital billboard then they'll again have the money for landscaping, to maintain their (tax free) property. I'm glad at least three members (Hansy Better Barraza, Giovanny Valencia, and Chairwoman Sherry Dong) saw through this ruse.

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And the provided collage doesn't even show "attractive landscaping", it shows a garbage of randomly spaced plants like a shitty suburban bank in the aughts.

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They're distracting in two ways -- they're almost always too bright, and the changes are startling.

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I was driving by the Carpenter's Union electronic billboard a few weeks ago and they had a primarily white sign up. I felt like I needed sunglasses! I could barely see where I was going while I was passing it.

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