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Township Avoids Electronic Billboard Lawsuit

SANATOGA PA – An understanding between an outdoor advertising company and Lower Pottsgrove’s attorney will allow the township to avoid, for now, a potential lawsuit over the legality of its current rules regarding electronic billboards and other off-premises signage, Solicitor Robert Brant has announced.

The Board of Commissioners subsequently agreed to remain “neutral” and not submit an opinion to the township Zoning Hearing Board on the company’s requests for variances to erect signs along U.S. Route 422 west of Porter Road.

At issue are plans by Matt Outdoor Advertising of Sicklerville NJ to put up billboards with regularly changing advertising messages, intended to be seen by and appeal to motorists traveling in both directions on 422. Several lighted and animated billboards are already common in the township, as well as in other municipalities through which 422 runs.

The township has wanted for years to erect a small messaging sign of its own outside the Buchert Road municipal building, but did not because it too would need Zoning Hearing Board approval. The commissioners’ answer was to ask their staff to modernize the signage ordinance and ensure it covers electronic advertising demands and more. A draft has already been approved by the township Planning Commission, and is awaiting commissioners’ final approval.

Until it is enacted, though, the current law applies. It severely restricts such billboards, and Matt contemplated a lawsuit somewhat similar to one the township also side-stepped during 2011 when it reached an agreement with another electronic billboard firm, Lamar Advertising of Penn LLC.

Brant, during the commissioners’ Aug. 3 meeting, said he “suggested strongly” that Matt withdraw its intent to sue. It agreed, possibly based in part on changes anticipated in the signage ordinance whenever it may be passed.

Matt will make its case to the zoning board on Aug. 26 (2015; Wednesday), according to a legal advertisement published Monday (Aug. 10) on its behalf. It seeks variances “to permit the installation of a 2-sided signboard which is larger in square feet, length and height than the size allowed” by law, and “to allow for a six-second message time change instead of the allowed 24-hour message time change.”

The hearing is open to the public and free to attend. It begins at 6 p.m. in the municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Aug. 3 meeting:

Photo from Google Images

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