Springfield's rejection of billboards along a stretch of Baltimore Pike is appropriate, a commonwealth court has ruled but the township cannot ban all billboards.
Late last week (November 29) six judges from the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied the Bartowski Investment Group's appeal to allow it to construct billboards on six Springfield properties along a 1.6 mile stretch of Baltimore Pike. However, the judges agreed with BIG that an ordinance that bans all billboards is unconstitutional.
Essentially, the BIG-proposed billboards won't be erected—pending an appeal to the PA Supreme Court—but future applicants could apply to build them.
Writing the opinion of the court, Judge Anne E. Covey said Springfield proved that the proposed locations along Baltimore Pike were not suitable for billboards but evidence lacked for a total ban.
One "unsubstantiated conclusion" from one expert, in this case land planning expert Thomas J. Comitta, wasn't enough, Covey said.
BIG applied to the Springfield Zoning Board of Adjustment in 2008 to construct two-sided, 672-square-foot billboards on six properties along Baltimore Pike. For the next several years, 16 hearing took place, .
The company subsequently appealed to the Delaware County Common Pleas Court, .
In the appeal to the Commonwealth Court, BIG's attorney argued that "billboards are a legitimate land use which cannot be excluded from the township without sufficient justification."
In its defense, Springfield, through township attorney Jim Byrne, called police, engineering, engineering psychology, and land planning experts to testify, in addition to residents. Forty-seven Springfield residents also spoke out against the billboards.
"While the township did not present sufficient evidence to justify a total exclusion, it did present sufficient evidence to show that the proposed sites were not suitable for the proposed billboards," Covey wrote.
Click the attached document to read the entire ruling.