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Business seeks permission to continue ads on LED sign

Published December 30. 2010 05:00PM

A Palmerton business will seek permission to continue to advertise on an existing LED sign.

Palmerton Partners Inc., with property at 302-304 Delaware Avenue, will go before the borough's Zoning Hearing Board at 7 p.m. Jan. 17.

At that time, the company will be in search of an interpretation and variance with regard to a section of a borough zoning ordinance that would allow off-premises advertising on an existing LED sign.

The borough has "received several complaints with regard to the LED sign attached to the west side of the Palmerton Hotel", according to a letter dated Oct. 20 that was sent by borough zoning officer Duane Dellecker to Jim Christman, owner of the Palmerton Hotel.

Upon research, Dellecker stated in his letter that the property is located in a Commercial Downtown zoning district. While a permit was secured by Christman to install the sign on the building, no where on the permit application does it indicate the sign is to be animated or of a changing face, Dellecker stated in his letter.

However, Dellecker stated a section of the borough's zoning ordinance lists prohibited signs in all zoning districts, and that a specific section prohibits flashing, blinking, twinkling, animated or moving signs of any type.

"Some time ago, we discussed this issue with you," Dellecker stated in his letter to Christman. "At that time, this office indicated that any complaints regarding the flashing or changing face would constitute a violation of the zoning ordinance and requested you limit the changing of the message to daily or as infrequently as possible. Unfortunately, this did not occur."

Further, Dellecker stated that the borough recently "witnessed an advertisement for other businesses to advertise on the sign; this is clearly a violation as off-premises signs are not permitted."

"New technologies relating to signage can pose a great distraction to passing motorists," he stated. "As a result, we hereby request you eliminate the flashing, blinking or movement of this signage immediately."

In a follow-up letter sent to Attorney Tom Nanovic, whom Christman is represented by, Dellecker stated that "per our recent telephone conversation, with detailed discussions on this issue, we have revisited our position."

"In researching this issue further, we have found that permit #4275 was issued by this office for a "LED sign"," Dellecker said in his follow-up letter. "Although a cover letter for the Uniform Construction Code permit was for a "LED message center" sign, nothing in the paperwork submitted indicated specifications on type, quantity, sequencing or other factors that would indicate changing messages."

But, Dellecker stated that "since no appeal was taken within a reasonable period of time, and since this office has not pursued the matter for a period of about four years, we deem the permit to be valid and withdraw our previous objection."

However, in terms of the use of the sign for off-premise advertising, Dellecker stated "this office stands behind the previous decision that, pursuant to [sections of the ordinance], off-premises signs are not permitted in this zoning district."

"Upon discussing this correspondence with your client, should you decide to pursue this matter to the Zoning Hearing Board, the issue of off-premises advertising should be the only matter for appeal," Dellecker stated. "Please be aware, however, that this office does not agree with your contention that the zoning ordinance is exclusionary and unconstitutional as off-premises signs are permitted in the industrial zoning district; nor, that using the sign 33 times over four years for off-premises advertising is de minimums."

Lastly, Dellecker stated that the borough is "in the process of writing zoning regulations to address the LED sign deficiencies in our ordinance. We would encourage your client to attend the Planning Commission meetings to bring firsthand knowledge into the discussion.

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