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February 1, 2013

Mayor: Take billboard down

Peabody: Officials say Lowell Street pole with sign is an 'eyesore' that's in the wrong spot

The erection of a pole supporting a double billboard on Lowell Street in Peabody has brought swift action from city officials, who say it’s been placed in the wrong spot.

“As we speak, the building inspector is issuing a cease-and-desist order,” Mayor Ted Bettencourt said yesterday. “I want the pole taken down, and I want the pole put behind the building where it’s supposed to be.”

In its current position, at the side of a building set to become a Subway restaurant, it looms over Lowell Street, although its supposed intent was to be seen from Route 1.

Its appearance provoked a sharp reaction from city officials.

“This is a monstrosity,” City Councilor Anne Manning-Martin said. “It’s a 90-foot, steel eyesore that was probably put in the wrong spot, and I want to know why. I’m going to do my best to find out why.”

The request to construct the pole was originally denied by the City Council in May. But Superior Court Judge Howard Whitehead voided the ruling following a visit to the area. He indicated that the council had treated the request unfairly because there are already plenty of signs in the vicinity, including what many consider a garish advertisement for the child-oriented Bonkers restaurant.

“It dwarfs the Bonkers sign,” Manning-Martin said of the new structure. “The argument was that it was going to be pushed back, way back, and it would not be seen from Lowell Street.”

In issuing his cease-and-desist order, the mayor cited language from City Council hearings and the court, language that he says backs up the contention that the pole should have been placed behind the building at Lowell Street, out of sight. Drawings of the site show the same thing, he said.

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