Plan to Add Billboards Along Baltimore Interstates Stalls after Community Opposition

| October 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Council Bill #20-0570, which could create the right of way for up to 28 new billboards along I-95, I-695, and I-895 on CSX land, has been “pulled back” by Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott. The plan had letters of opposition from many groups along this corridor including the Riverside Neighborhood Association, Locust Point Civic Association, Citizens of Pigotwn, Pigtown Main Street, Friends of Garrett Park, and South Baltimore Gateway Partnership.

From Baltimore Brew:

“Unless we see some miraculous change in community opinion, which is now too overwhelming for the president to ignore, that’s where we’re at. He hasn’t technically withdrawn the bill; he’s just taking his foot off the pedal,” Scott’s director of communications, Stefanie Mavronis, said tonight.

A hearing for the bill was supposed to take place on Wednesday.

Pacific Outdoor, which was behind the plan to add the new billboards, proposed 22 of the billboard sites. In the plan, three new billboards are proposed for the South Baltimore Peninsula, which already has six existing billboards. Four additional billboards are proposed for I-95 through Carroll-Camden Industrial Area and Morrell Park, which already has six billboards; three new billboards are proposed for I-895 in Brooklyn, which already has two billboards; and two billboards are proposed along I-695 in Hawkins Point, which already had two billboards. Additional billboards are proposed for Southeast Baltimore.

From Riverside Neighborhood Association’s letter:

This bill would authorize massive interstate signage throughout the South Baltimore Peninsula. The signs could be located every 500 feet and reach 90 feet into the air in certain areas with elevated highways.

The South Baltimore Peninsula is home to thousands of residents, many of whom live within a short distance of the railroad tracks subject to this bill. Opening the door for such a large influx of billboards would be damaging to the aesthetics of the Peninsula and turn our historic community into a commercial eyesore. Furthermore, it will likely cause a decline in property values resulting in a reduced tax base.

From Locust Point Civic Association’s letter:

As discussed and voted on during the meeting, Locust Point would like to be excluded from the bill for two reasons: (1) Locust Point is uniquely surrounded by train tracks, and (2) Locust Point is listed on the National Historic Register. The LPCA urges you to withdraw the bill, as it could be detrimental not only to the residents of Locust Point, but to all of us living in the South Baltimore Peninsula.

The bill authorizes billboards that could be located every 500 hundred feat and may reach 90 feet into the air in certain places with elevated highways. Allowing such billboards would not only be damaging to the aesthetics of the area, but it would also likely reduce property values and motivate many of the Locust Point residents to move out of the community.

The LPCA believes that the billboards would affect the neighborhood disproportionately due to the neighborhood being surrounded by train tracks. We also believe that the billboards would not further the preservation of our community’s place on the National Historic Register, reference number 12001084.

From Pigtown Main Street’s letter:

This legislation would increase and create additional billboards that will distract from gateways into our City, communities, commercial and industrial areas and amenities. The CSX property is currently not maintained well and we are confident the billboard construction will be a source of additional trash accumulation.

Please consider entering Washington Blvd. from 95 with a massive billboard along the highway and the billboard framework as you exit. Is this an appropriate gateway to Baltimore?

From Friends of Garrett Park’s letter:

Billboards would negatively impact the aesthetics of our neighborhood, over a decade of green planning and add to the light pollution which negatively impacts our circadian rhythms and harms our wildlife. Our conservation efforts have been supported by millions of dollars. Great care, attention and funding has been brought to our community thanks to the generosity of partners like the State of Maryland, The Conservation Fund, Baltimore City Parks and Recreation, The Greater Baybrook Alliance, Baltimore City Youth Fund, Boys and Girls Club of Central Maryland, Wheelabrator, Baltimore Office of Planning, SB7, Medstar Hospital, University of Maryland, the Port of Baltimore, Enoch Pratt, The National Aquarium and many more.

We are so grateful for hope in our community and we see the need to protect our

From South Baltimore Gateway Partnership’s letter:

Baltimore has a long and proud history of protecting neighborhoods from the visual clutter of unlimited billboards. This legislation undoes twenty years of hard effort by community members, legislators, and planners.

This bill places a concentrated burden on the neighborhoods of South Baltimore – communities like Westport, the Casino Entertainment District, Port Covington, South Baltimore, and Riverside. And it does so precisely at a time when we are beginning to see major progress in these very neighborhood, thanks to the influx of casino revenues.

Rendering from Council Bill #20-0570

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