New Jersey Town's Digital Billboard Ban Found Unconstitutional

Overruling an earlier appeals court decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court has found one township's prohibition on digital billboards to be unconstitutional.

2 minute read

October 12, 2016, 12:00 PM PDT

By jwilliams @jwillia22

Digital Billboard, Edmonton, Canada

Mack Male / Flickr

Brian J. Connelly, writing in the Rocky Mountain Sign Law blog, reports that a September ruling [pdf] by the New Jersey Supreme Court has found that an attempt to prohibit a digital billboard by Franklin Township is unconstitutional. The case revolved around the township's rejection of a proposal to install a digital billboard adjacent to a nearby interstate highway. Because the township had allowed static billboards in the same vicinity, the applicant sued, with the case eventually coming before the State Supreme Court. The court found that the rejection of the digital billboard was content neutral, however the township had failed to provide supporting evidence on why the digital billboard was less aesthetically attractive and more dangerous than the static signs.

...the court found that the township provided “no basis to discern how three static billboards are more aesthetically palatable than a single digital billboard.” The court also found that the township’s staff planner failed to identify specific literature regarding the safety of digital billboards and that the township’s recitation of traffic crash data near the site of the proposed digital billboard did not do a sufficient analysis of causation of crashes. In the course of its discussion of the analysis performed by the township, the Supreme Court referred to “a record founded only on unsupported suppositions, fears, and concerns,” and stated that a “more robust factual record in support of the cited government interests deemed substantial” might pass constitutional muster.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 in Rocky Mountain Sign Law

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