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Billboard Ban to Third Circuit? Mt. Laurel Files Notice of Appeal

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By Robyn Hagan Cain on October 25, 2011 4:08 PM

Mt. Laurel, New Jersey should have an appellate court ruling on its billboard ban in about six months.

After losing its case in the district court, Interstate Outdoor Advertising (Interstate) in Cherry Hill, NJ announced last week that it has filed a notice of appeal in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Mt. Laurel has had a zoning ordinance banning outdoor billboards for 23 years, but in 2008, shortly after Interstate filed development applications to the Township Zoning Board of Adjustment for nine outdoor advertising signs, Mt. Laurel adopted Ordinance 2008-12 to ban off-site additional advertising signs such as Interstate's outdoor advertising signs.

The ordinance provided an extensive list of purposes in support of the terms of the ban; however, the primary justifications for the ban were the promotion of traffic safety and aesthetic improvement.

Interstate sued the Zoning Board, arguing that the ordinance was an impermissible restriction on freedom of speech in violation of the First Amendment. Interstate further claimed that the Zoning Board had not shown a connection between a complete ban of off-site advertising throughout Mt. Laurel and the promotion of traffic safety and aesthetics.

Last month, the district found that Mt. Laurel's billboard ban was an acceptable means of addressing the problems of traffic safety and aesthetic suitability.

Between filing briefs, oral arguments, and a court decision, Interstate is facing a lengthy wait in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. The wait, however, could prove lucrative. Since Interstate is also fighting a Cherry Hill billboard ban, a favorable ruling in the Mt. Laurel appeal could open up multiple markets in the state.

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