A South Jersey company that wants to erect a billboard at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge in Camden has again requested a delay on a hearing on the controversial proposal.
Interstate Outdoor Advertising, based in Cherry Hill, asked the city to postpone a hearing Monday before the zoning board seeking a variance, said city spokesman Vince Basara. A reason for the delay was not provided.
A new hearing was scheduled for Oct. 1, Basara said.
The proposal to build a 167-foot-high billboard in North Camden near the Camden waterfront has faced stiff opposition from residents, community groups, and developers. They believe it would change the architectural landscape and hamper economic development in the area.
Under the proposal announced in April, messages on two digital screens would target thousands of commuters who travel across the bridge daily from New Jersey into Philadelphia. It would cost about $800,000 and take about six months to build, according to Interstate CEO Drew Katz.
Katz did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Monday.
The son of Lewis Katz, a Camden native and philanthropist who gave millions to his hometown, Drew Katz has said he came up with the billboard proposal as a way to carry on his father's legacy. The elder Katz, a co-owner of the Philadelphia Media Group, publisher of the Inquirer and Daily News, died in a plane crash in May 2014.
In what is believed to be the first venture of its kind in the country, proceeds from advertising sales, about $200,000 annually, would be earmarked for nonprofits in the city. Katz said the billboard would be used to create a permanent funding source for charitable groups.
But the company needs a zoning variance from the city to proceed with the proposal. The redevelopment plan for the parcel of land at Elm Street and Delaware Avenue where the billboard would be placed prohibits billboards.
Monday's request is the third time that Interstate has asked the city to delay the hearing with the zoning board. In late April, Katz said he needed more time to meet with community groups and residents to address their concerns and a May meeting was postponed. A June meeting was also canceled.