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Waynesboro denies Martin's application for electronic sign

Councilman says he doesn't intend to go to court in attempt to change prohibition

Councilman says he doesn't intend to go to court in attempt to change prohibition

May 14, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- The code enforcement office for the Borough of Waynesboro was open for mere minutes Tuesday morning when Ronnie Martin arrived to make good on a promise.

Martin filled out the paperwork to apply for a 32-square-foot electronic sign for his business.

Then came the anticipated response - DENIED.

"They backed me into a corner," Martin said of his reason for applying.

The Borough of Waynesboro prohibits electronic signs within municipal limits unless they only display time and temperature.

Electronic signs with changing messages must be allowed somewhere in town or else the borough could end up in court, the borough solicitor has warned. A judge likely would abolish the prohibition and allow them anywhere, she said.

Because of this, the borough council has taken steps to develop an ordinance to address electronic signs. An early step in that process was a review by the Waynesboro Planning Commission.

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On Monday, the planning commission voted 6-1 to recommend that the borough council only allow electronic signs in four small sections of the town's outskirts. The planning commission said signs only should be permitted to change messages once every 15 seconds.

Martin, one of six councilmen, wants to see electronic signs allowed in more places, including around Waynesboro Mall and on portions of South Potomac Street.

Planning commission member Stephen Monn referred to the proposal as "a wholesale attempt to allow flashing signs a lot of places in the borough."

"The argument has been that if we don't allow those types of signs, no new business will open in town again," Monn said. "I'd argue that's not true."

"Mr. Monn was saying nobody applied for (an electronic sign), so it wasn't needed," Martin said.

Martin then decided he would apply for an electronic sign for Red Roof Storage in the 300 block of South Potomac Street. While he said that wasn't his original plan, Martin thinks it would help his storage unit business like the electronic sign did for his real estate office on Pa. 16 in Wayne Heights, Pa.

"I know what it makes (as far as) a difference for my realty business. I wouldn't invest that kind of money if it wouldn't bring a return to me," Martin said, saying that electronic signs cost about $30,000.

Martin said his intention is not to go to court over this matter.

"It's just a step you have to take to get things worked out," he said.

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