“The protection we have in this society is defined by the obscenity laws,” City Solicitor Michael Smerczynski said. He noted that his office would act if those laws were violated.
Others indicated that informing the building inspector of each change would be impractical — particularly in an era when some billboards are electronic and change frequently.
“The purpose of that sign is advertising,” said Councilor Dave Gravel, who cited his own experience in the field. “We don’t go tell the building inspector every time we want to advertise.”
All this sign language is likely inspired by changes in the regulations for billboards due on the state level. Liacos previously noted that advertisers are eager to locate in Peabody, with its multitude of major highways, and eager to do it soon so that conditions are established prior to the new rules from Beacon Hill.
Further, the city rewrote its rules after initial efforts to forbid some billboards last summer brought a lawsuit and a defeat in court.
The content of the signs wasn’t the only objection from Sinewitz.
“It’s not the safest intersection,” he said. “I don’t want this to be a distraction on the jughandle when everyone is going in a different direction.”
The billboards are slated to be 14 by 48 feet in size. More requests for special permits for new billboards are expected.