Nassau County's plan to erect electronic billboards along the Long Island Expressway and near Roosevelt Field mall has stalled because of bipartisan opposition from county and town leaders and likely will need significant revisions to secure approval, officials said.
Last month, Allvision, the Manhattan-based marketing firm that is advising the county and will erect and operate the billboards, unveiled plans to put them in eight locations, including seven along the LIE. The signs would display advertisements, county-run messages and emergency information.
Allvision said the plan would generate more than $6 million annually, or more than $160 million for the county over the next two decades. Total revenues are projected at about $17 million annually. The plan calls for Allvision to rent land from the county, which would receive 35 percent of advertising revenue. Allvision would get the other 65 percent.
County officials had proposed the idea largely to replace the $30 million in projected annual revenue lost when the county legislature repealed the school-zone speed cameras last year.
But Democratic and Republican lawmakers have criticized the size of the billboards -- some would be as wide as 48 feet and be as much as 110 feet off the ground -- and their proximity to homes.
The plan requires the approval of the GOP-led county legislature and the county Planning Commission, which must provide an environmental recommendation to the legislature.
Cristina Brennan, spokeswoman for legislative Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), said, "As currently proposed, the plan does not have the full support of the delegation."
Gonsalves said her members have concerns about the size and locations of the signs.
Legis. Judith Jacobs (D-Woodbury), an opponent of the billboards, said the plan has no political support. "In my mind, it's dead," she said.
Brian Nevin, spokesman for County Executive Edward Mangano, said the "proposal will not move forward until further discussions are held with the legislature."
There are no meetings scheduled between Mangano and the legislature to discuss the billboards, officials said.
The Planning Commission was to consider the billboards in January but held off after concerns were raised by area business groups. Planning Commission chairman Jeff Greenfield said the county has yet to resubmit the proposal to the commission.
Josh Scharfberg, vice president of business development for Allvision, said the firm has begun revising the proposal after meeting with political and business leaders in recent weeks. Those changes, he said, could include the location, size and design of the signs.
"We are still refining the concept," Scharfberg said. "We are actively engaged in discussions with stakeholders."
Among the critics of the billboards are the leaders of Nassau's three towns.
North Hempstead Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth called the signs "visual pollution" and town attorneys are studying legal options to block them.
Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto said he is generally "not pro-billboard" but would not make a determination on the plan until it had been introduced by the county.
Mike Deery, spokesman for Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, said she "doesn't like billboards in suburban communities" but would not take a position until the proposal was presented to the legislature.
Members of the Long Island Association, the region's largest business group, met last month with Allvision to discuss their concerns about the signs. Spokesman Matthew Cohen said the group advised the consultant not to locate billboards along the expressway.
After the legislature repealed speed cameras in December, Mangano proposed a dozen options to replace the revenue, including billboards and reducing hospital and bus subsidies. Billboards were among the options lawmakers said they would consider, Nevin said.