By Sue Ellen Woodcock
Despite a one-year moratorium on billboards in the city of Revere, the MBTA recently received approval from the MassDOT to install a new billboard on the side of the MBTA garage at Wonderland facing the rotary.
“This project is within MassDOT guidelines for outdoor advertising and is consistent with the development agreement associated with this facility,” said Rick Colon, MassDOT Community Relations Director.
“It is disappointing to note that MassDOT refuses to honor the sovereignty of our City,” said Councilor at Large George Rotondo in an email to the MassDOT. “Clearly you know we have a billboard moratorium.”
According to Mayor Brian Arrigo’s office “the billboards were part of the Master Development Agreement for the Wonderland TOD (transit oriented development) site, which predates any billboard moratorium.”
In 2015 Cove Outdoor applied for two digital billboards on each side of Wonderland MBTA station. A 60-foot by 20-foot board on the north facing side was approved on July 15, 2015. The board facing south was denied by the Massachusetts DOT Jan. 19, 2016 because of traffic concerns. Since then Cove Outdoor has appealed to MassDOT and applied for a static board facing south. The MassDOT determined that Cove Outdoor had not notified all of the abutters but has since done this. Another hearing on the application was held on October 13. An application for a digital billboard is in the appeals phase, according to MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo. He added that a digital billboard on the other side of the garage was approved six months ago.
Only three councillors in Revere, Ward 4 Councillor Patrick Keefe, Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna and Rotondo sent statements to the MassDOT in opposition of the billboard.
“As a councillor I want Revere to thrive and be aesthetically pleasing,” McKenna said.
Rob Champoux, head of the Revere Beautification Committee (RBC), and RBC member Rob DeMattia have been trying to end the proliferation of billboards in Revere.
“The city is looking to redevelop Wonderland Dog Track and we don’t need a massive billboard directly across the street to hinder the marketing of that property,” DeMattia said.
Champoux said the moratorium has been in place for some time. He is most concerned with the city working on a new billboard ordinance and he understands a committee to work on the ordinance should be appointed soon.