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Billboard Battle: City Rules Electronic Sign Is Illegal

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The new Duane Reade electronic billboard at 72nd Street at Broadway is impossible to miss and already creating a big buzz - and complaints. (Credit: CBS 2)

The new Duane Reade electronic billboard at 72nd Street at Broadway is impossible to miss and already creating a big buzz – and complaints. (Credit: CBS 2)

davecarlin Dave Carlin
Dave Carlin serves as a reporter for CBS 2 News and covers breaking...
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NEW YORK (CBS 2) — City inspectors ruled Friday night that an electronic billboard on the Upper West Side is illegal, much to the relief of many neighborhood residents.

CBS 2 was first to tell you about the bright light battle between residents and a Duane Reade store.

“I think it spoils the neighborhood,” one resident said.

Always extra bright, the intrusive high-tech billboard washes bright light over everything at 72nd Street and Broadway, reports CBS 2’s Dave Carlin.

“It changes the character of this area,” said another resident.

The billboard has changed Jill Adams’ home life, lighting up her living room and bedroom like a disco.

“I can’t live with this,” she said.

Adams suspected the sign had to be illegal, and the Department of Buildings said she’s right, telling CBS 2 that “inspectors will be issuing violations because accessory signs on a second floor cannot be illuminated.”

“It’s got to go. I’m glad it’s inappropriate, illegal, against the rules or whatever, and it is,” Adams said.

There will be a hearing, and that’s when fines would be imposed. Duane Reade may keep the electronic billboard up and running until that takes place, illegal or not.

“I hope Duane Reade pulls the plug before there is a need for a hearing,” Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal said.

Rosenthal has been fighting the sign since it went up last week, and she’s angry that it’s still on.

“Often, businesses view penalties that they have to pay as the cost of doing business,” she said. “I hope that Duane Reade isn’t one of those.”

Some are taking Duane Reade’s side.

“If you don’t like flashing things, you should live in New Hampshire,” city resident Diane Morgan said.

City inspectors, though, insist the bright lights are now on borrowed time.

This is not the first bright light battle for Duane Reade. In 1999, the city issued violations for an improper sign on Manhattan’s East Side.

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