The Camden County College campus in Cherry Hill contends it is not getting enough attention — at least by motorists.
"The college has been struggling with comments and complaints regarding the inability of visitors to locate the building and driveway entrances on both Route 70 and Springdale Road," according to a letter from Key Engineers of Berlin, representing the college's William G. Rohrer Center, located at the southwest corner of the two roads.
New LED signs with changing messages, according to the college's proposal scheduled to be heard by the Cherry Hill Planning Board at its January 19 meeting. While some other townships permit animated LED signs, the flashing messages are not favored in Cherry Hill.
Existing sign structures at the driveways are six feet wide and seven feet high and are internally illuminated. The two new signs and monuments, as proposed, would be 18½ feet wide and a height of 10 feet, four inches. Columns 18 inches in diameter would balance each side of the sign monuments.
Beyond the size, the other big difference of the proposed signs from the current signs is the LED "programmable scrolling message board" with three lines of eight-inch-high text in a message that would be seven feet wide. The college's application calls for the LED's "message to change every 90 to 120 seconds."
LED signs have been a point of contention with township officials, who have said they fear drivers will be distracted by flashing, animated or frequently changing messages.
Members of the Zoning Board of Adjustment at their August 6 meeting questioned Amici Ristorante owner Alex Daku about his plan for an LED sign at his new location in the former La Campagne/Farmhouse/Denim American Bistro building on Kresson Road. Daku agreed to stipulate his sign would not be animated, flash or blink, would be on only during restaurant hours and that the message would not change more than once a day.
The township's Department of Community Affairs expressed some concerns about the college's LED sign proposal in a review memo to the Planning Board. However, the department's suggestions for the signs on busy Route 70 and Springdale Road do not appear as restrictive as the Amici plan, for example.
"While the department is strongly in favor of the messages only changing every 90 to 120 seconds, as this would be less of a distraction on drivers, the department does object to the 'scrolling' aspect of the messaging as scrolling messages can be a serious distraction to drivers," the department wrote in its letter about the college's plan. "It is strongly recommended that the applicant only propose single-colored static messaging that changes instantaneously (no illusion of movement) as opposed to in a scrolling manner."
"This is important as it is paramount that signage be safe and create a more desirable visual environment without creating adverse distractions to drivers," according to the letter from Community Development Director Cosmas Diamantis, supervisor Natalie Shafiroff and planner Jacob Richman.