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Mixed messages on use of electronic signs

January 15, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Several different positions were presented at a Waynesboro Planning Commission meeting Monday night concerning where electronic signs should be allowed in the Borough of Waynesboro and what they should look like.

Councilman Ronnie Martin said signs with changing messages should be allowed on Main Street both west of Grant Street and east of Walnut Street. They should also be permitted in the commercial and industrial zones of South Potomac Street, he said.

Martin argued that doing so would further encourage businesses to move and/or stay in town.

The commission has been reviewing an ordinance regulating electronic signs for some time. Member Stephen Monn said they should be limited as much as legally possible because they are a distraction for drivers.

He opposed Martin's proposal for signs on Main and Potomac streets.

"These are the areas that are already dangerous to pedestrians," Monn said.

"A distraction in your eyes is not a distraction in others," Martin said.

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"We can't have a Christmas tree on the square with red lights because they'll distract the drivers and they don't even flash," Monn said.

Martin said he recalled a meeting hosted at the Chamber of Commerce offices in which a consultant said the downtown is in need of signs telling people where to find businesses. Allowing them won't necessarily mean dozens of signs popping up because electronic signs can be cost prohibitive to some, he said.

"The signs cost about $25,000 to $30,000," said Martin, who has an electronic sign with listings at his Wayne Heights, Pa., real estate office.

Fifteen seconds tends to be the legally preferred interval for changing messages, Solicitor Melissa Dively said.

"As far as location, you have to allow them in the borough somewhere," Dively said. The planning commission and council could consider prohibiting them near intersections, she said.

Planning commission member Deborah Hoff said she has concerns about how electronic signs might affect residents.

"Everywhere you're talking about (signs), you have homes. ... You're not going to want to have residents living across from a flashing sign," she said.

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