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Sign law could land Borough of Waynesboro in court

May 13, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Any applications submitted for electronic signs in the Borough of Waynesboro could land the municipality in court, ultimately leading to the eradication of a local law.

The borough's solicitor has been open in talking about that possibility as entities work to fix the problem.

A threat made Monday night by an unlikely source, however, could make the scenario real.

Ronnie Martin said he's considering applying for a flashing sign today for a storage unit facility he owns on South Potomac Street. Martin, a local developer, is a member of the borough council, which is responsible for taking care of the flawed signs ordinance.

Martin mentioned the application when his frustrations grew as the Waynesboro Planning Commission made moves to greatly limit where electronic signs with changing messages will be allowed in the future. The commission, on a 6-1 vote, decided to recommend that the borough council only permit the signs in four small sections of the town's outskirts.

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"In those zones, they'd be allowed to flash at a rate of once every 15 seconds," said Stephen Monn, a member of the planning commission.

The planning commission's suggestions for allowed zones are Pa. 16 west of Frick Avenue, Pa. 316 across from Allegheny Power, Pa. 997 north of King Street and the industrial section of State Hill Road.

Electronic signs must be permitted somewhere in the borough. The existing, outright prohibition could be challenged in court, making the ordinance invalid, Solicitor Melissa Dively said.

Martin had submitted his own proposal, which included the four original areas plus the general commercial areas around Waynesboro Mall, the corner of CV Avenue where Turkey Hill is being constructed, and Rutter's Farm Store and the Landis shopping center, both on South Potomac Street.

"I think we need to compromise on this because we have two positions: no signs and signs everywhere," said Allen Porter, the dissenting vote on the planning commission.

Monn pointed out that public comment at the April 16 council meeting was overwhelmingly against electronic signs.

Planning commission member Louis M. Barlup mentioned starting with the four areas, then re-evaluating the matter in the future.

"If people could see the operations and effects, maybe some of their concerns would be eliminated," Barlup said.

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