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Business owners see red over sign proposal in township

December 12, 2006|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Business owners who saw red Monday evening might see less of the primary color in the future.

In its proposed sign ordinance, Washington Township Planning Commission recommended eliminating the use of red and blue from all new electronic signs.

The commission claimed that red or blue electronic signs, (those) signs with electronically generated messages or images, confuse motorists and compromise safety.

"I am worried about the sea of red out there," Washington Township Planning Commission member Randall Kuhn said. "Red is the color of police, fire and rescue."

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Kuhn said having too much red and blue will confuse people, making it difficult for them to differentiate between a sign and a rescue vehicle.

Business owners present at the Monday meeting did not buy the commission's defense and claimed the measure was far too restrictive.

"You take two of the three primary colors out of electronic signs, they might as well be black and white," said Richard Mohn, owner of Funcastle on Pa. 16 west of Waynesboro.

Chad Ely of C. Ely Signs said the measure made the use of full color and red LED signs nearly impossible.

"Full color LED signs use red, blue and green bulbs. I don't see how you are just going to pull red and blue out of there," he said. "You take those out and you are left with nothing."

While Mohn said he will "go to the grave disagreeing on the red and blue issue," he and fellow members of the local business community did persuade the commission to be less restrictive of the two colors.

When the meeting started, the proposed ordinance prohibited all new signs in the township from using the two primary colors. After listening to the concerns of the business community for more than an hour, the commission chose to strike the sentence prohibiting red and blue from all new signs, and keep only the sentence prohibiting the colors on new electronic signs.

"I don't see anything wrong with just a plain red or blue sign," commission member Robert Peiffer said.

Mohn, a former township supervisor, admitted that his business is in Antrim Township, but said he came to the meeting because any decision made in Washington Township will eventually affect Antrim Township.

The proposed ordinance is still a long way from being adopted, but township solicitor John Lisko said that as is, he did not think the township would have any trouble winning the red-and-blue issue in court.

"With the red and blue debate, the township would win in court on the safety issue," he said.

As for business in Washington Township, Mohn and Ely said preventing red and blue on electronic signs would hurt business.

"Electronic signs are the future and if this line is left in the ordinance, it will deter new businesses from coming to Washington Township." Mohn said.

The proposed ordinance will be reviewed again by the planning commission before sending a copy to the Franklin County Planning Commission and the Washington Township board of supervisors for review.

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