Logo-adorned trucks rejected as portable signs in Washington Twp.

September 19, 2011|By JENNIFER FITCH |
  • Harry Morningstar Jr.
Harry Morningstar Jr.

WAYNESBORO, Pa. — The Washington Township (Pa.) Supervisors on Monday rejected a business owner’s request to put logo-adorned trucks at various locations in the municipality as portable signs.

Harry Morningstar Jr. of the Furniture Market applied for portable sign permits for two trucks — one a vintage model with an oval sign on the bed and the other a box truck with graphics on the side.

The supervisors voted against both of Morningstar’s applications at their Monday meeting, asking the township solicitor to prepare the documents to formalize that decision.

“I believe this is selective enforcement of the law. I think I’m being targeted,” Morningstar said.

Morningstar said he was surprised by the decision and will consider recourse in court.

Supervisors John Gorman, Carroll Sturm and Stephen Kulla said they consider the entire truck to be part of the sign, meaning the sign would exceed the 12 square feet allowed by the local ordinance.

Morningstar and his attorney, Andrew Benchoff, said they’d argue the “sign” is the logo portion, not the plain background and truck itself.

“I think trucks are part of the structure of the sign,” Gorman said.

Sturm and Kulla said they agreed with Gorman’s comment. All three men voted “no,” while Supervisor Jeff Geesaman abstained from the discussions and vote, and Supervisor Elaine Gladhill was absent.

During a public hearing, the supervisors asked Morningstar several questions, including how long he would park at each location and what fees he’d pay. Kulla expressed concerns about parked tractor-trailers or trains being plastered with signs.

“Obviously we’re here for the purpose of safety and aesthetics. That’s what I’m concerned about,” Kulla said.

Township Solicitor John Lisko said case law says a vehicle on an auto dealer roof is a sign, as is a meat smoker placed in front of a barbecue restaurant.

Morningstar said he decreased the size of logos and graphics on his trucks to reduce the square footage.

Morningstar showed a Herald-Mail reporter pictures of moving, off-premise and flashing signs he feels violate the township ordinance, although some might predate the law. He also shared pictures of signs on trash containers.

“If you have a Dumpster, you can apparently put your sign on it,” Morningstar said.

Morningstar’s practice of placing mannequins atop delivery vehicles generated resident comments and media interest earlier this year. Mannequins remain on some of his logo-splashed vehicles parked in other municipalities.

“No other township around here has said anything but ‘Go, small business, go.’ ... We cannot compete with the big-box stores dollar for advertising dollar,” Morningstar said.

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