In the past few years, certain billboard companies have taken the approach of filing costly, drawn-out challenges to sign restrictions in our local Township/Borough Zoning Ordinances. These billboard companies often base their challenges on the theory that a municipality cannot exclude a legitimate use altogether (which the billboard companies claim to present), and that zoning ordinances that exclude their I-95 sized signs are unconstitutional – regardless of the locale, residential impacts, visual blight and safety issues. The law, however, provides that billboards and other noxious uses can nonetheless be excluded if they are: adverse to the public health, safety and welfare; if they are contrary to zoning; or if they don’t comply with other general, unchallenged ordinance provisions.
The exclusion of these billboards is again being challenged in Springfield along Baltimore Pike. In addition, an application has been filed to add a billboard on the site of the Easy Storage facility between the Springfield Mall and Smedley Park. This billboard could be 62 feet high and could be seen from residents of Plush Mills Senior Living and other residents of Wallingford and Swarthmore.
The mega-sized billboards threaten our communities. Moderation does not seem to have crept in to the billboard lexicon. In some of the challenges that they have already filed, they have sought 672 – 1344 square foot electronic billboards that will tower at least 65 feet in height. The impact on our towns will be significant:
- They are often the tallest structures in the area, some more than sixty-five (65) feet high;
- They will be seen far into our residential neighborhoods;
- You cannot turn them off. These electronic billboards can change messages as quickly as every six (6) seconds, all day and night. If you live nearby, you face the prospect of a “TV on a stick” looming outside of your bedroom windows that will visually shout advertising all day and night;
- They distract drivers and are often proposed in areas of high pedestrian and vehicle traffic, creating unsafe driving conditions. With drivers not being allowed to send text messages on a 4 inch screen, you should not be bombarded while driving with ad messages on a 672 square foot screen; and
- You face the prospect of the billboards negatively impacting your property values.
Getting involved and staying involved are half the battle. Help us to help you protect your town, protect your property values and protect our roads against these dangers. Contact any POPT member for further information.
Preserve Our Pennsylvania Towns, Inc.
491 Baltimore Pike #619
Springfield, PA 19064-3810