In a surprising decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court found earlier this month that a township ordinance prohibiting digital billboards violated the free speech provisions of the U.S. and New Jersey constitutions.
Franklin Township, New Jersey, a suburban community in Somerset County, enacted sign regulations that allowed billboards in zoning districts near interstate highways. The regulations prohibited digital billboards. The township justified its regulations on the basis of traffic safety and aesthetics. Various township bodies suggested that the ban on digital billboards was enacted because the township did not have sufficient information on the safety of digital billboards in order to craft appropriate regulations. Because state law imposes dispersal requirements on billboards, it was established that the township could have just three static billboards and just one digital billboard.
In 2009, E&J Equities sought a variance to allow the placement of a digital billboard in the township. Because digital billboards were not allowed, the request was brought before the township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment. The ZBA did not approve the application.
Thereafter, E&J brought an action against the township in state trial court. The trial court found that the township failed to meet intermediate scrutiny Continue Reading New Jersey Supreme Court: Digital Billboard Ban Unconstitutional