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Sign law passes in Washington Township

July 17, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - The Washington Township Supervisors put an end to more than a year of debates, meetings, field trips and committees on Monday when they adopted a comprehensive sign ordinance governing the size, location and type of signs permitted in the 39-square-mile municipality surrounding Waynesboro.

"The old ordinance had very loose restrictions on size, and I don't think it spoke to overall size. The main purpose was to create a profile for what is becoming Washington Township's Main Street ... so we didn't turn it into a strip that was garish and unsightly," Elena Kehoe said, referring to Pa. 16.

Kehoe, a planning commission member, joked she has been "sometimes accused of being the sign Nazi."

The planning commission teamed with the business community when developing an ordinance that prohibits signs with moving parts, animated features, or flashing, blinking or audible features.

The old ordinance restricted the maximum height of a sign in commercial zones to 45 feet, Supervisor Carroll Sturm said. Revisions reduce that to 25 feet, he said.

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Signs cannot exceed 32 square feet under the new ordinance, whereas the previous ordinance did not have a maximum area clause, Sturm said.

The new restrictions go into effect in five days, Township Manager Mike Christopher said. Existing signs are exempted from the new regulations unless the signs are changed.

The supervisors also accepted fees associated with sign permits, placing the amounts at $10 to $200, depending on type. "Now hiring" signs are free, as well as special event and public announcement signs from charitable or nonprofit organizations.

Supervisor C. Stewart McCleaf expressed dissatisfaction with taking five pages of regulations and making them into 27 pages.

"From my perspective, I think it's overkill," McCleaf said.

He also spoke about the possible need and cost to add staff to regulate signs.

"Here we are getting beat up for money we're spending elsewhere in the township," McCleaf said.

However, in what he said afterward was a nod to the work put in by others, McCleaf ended up seconding Supervisor Christopher Firme's motion to adopt the sign ordinance. The vote was unanimous.

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