After hearing what they said were almost exclusively negative comments from residents about Lamar Advertising's proposal to place two billboards on Route 4 by the high school, the Town Council stepped back from the idea. They voted 5-0 Monday night to reject the proposal.
"My wife yelled at me for even considering it," said Councilman Mike Kiernan. After the meeting he conceded his mother did too.
"You know the size the billboard is 48 by 14," said Councilman Mark Gee afterwards, "but the height off the ground it's like 100 feet. It means nothing unless you know how high off the ground it's going to be."
He added, "What happens if there are no takers on the billboard, do they still pay us?"
At a meeting on June 25, Lamar proposed paying East Greenwich $207,600 a year for one “static” (i.e. flat picture) board and one electronic board. It would offer $73,800 a year in rent for two static-only boards. The rent would increase, under to both proposals, every 4 years for 20 years.
Kiernan, during that meeting, suggested the money could go toward things like road repairs. At that meeting, Council President Michael Isaacs said he wanted to at least listen to the proposal and see what the council thought.
Two weeks later, all five councilmen seemed to have seen and heard enough to help them decide the issue. Mock-up photos (seen here) of what the billboards would look like were not available at the meeting June 25 but were sent to Town Manager Bill Sequino later that week.
"We need to balance [the proposal] with the impact that this type of activity would have on the neighboring homes," said Councilman Jeff Cianciolo. "I think ultimately it would have a negative impact on the quality of life there and ultimately affect home prices."
"I received a number of negative comments about it," Isaacs said afterwards. "In light of that, it just seemed we should find out whether people wanted to spend time on it."
We had a chance after the last meeting ... to see the drawings and to go out and drive the area and see where they would be. In light of that, and the comments that came in, I thought that it would be appropriate before we spent any time on this to see if anyone wanted to proceed."
They did not.