A massive new billboard installed outside an Upper East Side hotel has some neighbors seeing red.
Upper East Side residents who live in apartment buildings near the gigantic 40-foot sign recently erected at the corner of East 61st Street and York Avenue, on The Bentley Hotel’s property, want the visual blight removed.
“A billboard of that size is simply wrong for a residential neighborhood,” the East Sixties Neighborhood Association wrote in a letter to The Bentley Hotel read at Tuesday’s meeting of Community Board 8’s Zoning & Development Committee, adding that “A lit billboard shining through the windows is not only obtrusive, but unhealthy, as it interferes with [neighbors’] sleep.”
Community Board 8 member Judy Schneider, whose husband leads the East Sixties Neighborhood Association, detailed how the group met with a hotel representative.
“He was, I think, somewhat surprised that the community was taken aback by this whole thing, and that it wasn’t a good thing,” Schneider told the meeting.
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Scheider says the hotel rep told the group it would use the funding generated by the new billboard to assist migrant families staying at the hotel, now being used as a shelter by the City.
“It is absolutely untrue,” said Jason Samuels, a member of management at The Bentley, speaking with Upper East Site on Wednesday.
“I’m telling you categorically on the record is absolutely untrue,” Samuels continued, confirming that the new sign is simply a new revenue stream for the business and not a philanthropic endeavor.
Scheider also said the hotel promised to work to reduce the disruption caused by the sign’s lighting. However, she noted, “That doesn’t solve the problem of the big intrusive billboard which doesn’t belong in a residential area.”
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Some board members floated the idea of a resolution calling for the City to change the zoning on The Bentley block, hoping the shift would force the UES hotel to remove the undesirable four-story structure constructed approximately a month and a half ago.
“It has tremendous visual blight in the community. The lighting is terrible. The size is out of scale for signage,” said Community Board 8 member Michele Birnbaum, “We should explore the possibilities of changing whatever the zoning rules and regulations are on that block so that if we are successful, this will no longer be permitted.”
However, as noted during the meeting and confirmed to Upper East Site by the NYC Department of Buildings, since the enormous billboard was constructed as-of-right, meaning it is built without needing any special permission under the law, the sign would be grandfathered in so long as it doesn’t get any larger and its lights don’t get brighter.
“It’s legal, but I think we can all agree it is not appropriate for a residential community,” said Zoning & Development Committee Co-chair Sharon Pope-Marshall, “It’s all about mitigating measures now.”
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“The mitigation that they can offer, and that they would offer, since this is a cash cow for them, is not going to be mitigation that you’re going to be happy with,” warned Birnbaum, whose proposal calling for the Community Board was eventually scrapped.
“We’ve spoken to folks in the community who have told us that there were some issues that they wanted us to be aware of — which we are — and we are certainly going to do our best to address the issues,” Samuels told Upper East Site, adding that the hotel had hired engineers to work on problem posed by the billboard’s lighting.
Ultimately, the Zoning & Development Committee voted to encourage both sides to continue talking to reach a compromise on the new billboard and to keep the board notified of their progress.
“We support bringing the parties together,” said board member Elizabeth Rose, “To hopefully identify appropriate actions or strategies to address the community concerns and minimize the impact on the residential neighborhood.”
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People need to get a life. Who cares! That’s right by the bridge and bothers no one. Plus it’s for MSK that helps cancer patients. Get over yourselves.
If you don’t live in the neighborhood, you aren’t entitled to comment. The owners of this hotel are real sleaze bags.
The notorious slum lords who own The Bentley are felons. For 2 years they housed homeless men, now a.multi million dollar deal at taxpayer expense to house migrants. This is nothing but a cash grab to.put more money in their pockets. MSK doesn’t need advertising. This billboard is a blight in a residential neighborhood facing 3 buildings lit up at night like its times square.