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Resident gets permission for one billboard, denied a second

Published February 01. 2011 05:00PM

At a zoning hearing in Bowmanstown on Jan. 31 Wendy Borger was named chairman for the zoning hearing board during reorganization.

Duane Schleicher received permission for an LED sign at his 700 Lehigh Street property. He was denied a second off-premises sign on the narrow strip of land between Route 248 and the access road from Bowmanstown.

On Sept. 29, 2010, zoning officer Duane Dellecker received applications for a billboard on industrial-commercial property at 700 Lehigh Street - the former Prince property. A second sign was to be on commercial property which would require a variance.

The signs were to be LEDs with 150 square feet and not more than 34 feet high. The signs must be 1,200 feet distant from each other and from any other billboard.

Dellecker said he had received insufficient information to make a determination and consequently denied the applications. He had requested the information but did not receive it.

Both billboards would replace signs on trailers in approximately the same locations. No permit could be found for the one along Route 248.

Dellecker tried to determine distance from a map and thought it was all right, but he was not sure.

Schleicher's attorney, Keith Strohl, presented maps with the approximate locations.

Schleicher said he had measured the distance with a wheel and that afternoon had it measured by Walsh Construction with a GPS. He said he would have room to adjust the locations to meet the 1,200 feet.

The one at Lehigh Street would be one-sided because it abuts a bank created by the road exit from Route 248. The Route 248 sign would be two-sided.

The advertisements would change per PennDOT regulations which require each message to be up for seven seconds with one second between messages. There can be no animation.

Township solicitor Jim Preston asked what the Prince property was used for. Schleicher said warehousing, parking, storage and offices.

In addition to the trailer sign at the Route 248 property, there is a wooden one for Koch's, which had many previous uses and is an old sign.

Jeff Hoffman, a salesman from Bartush Signs, said the signs are clear, easily readable and require little maintenance. The company would provide and install the signs.

He said the brightness is measured in LITS - 10,000 LITS is the amount of light given off if the entire sign is white. He was asked if 5,000 LITS would be satisfactory for daytime and 500 for nighttime. Hoffman thought the 500 would be low.

Borger asked if the Prince sign would affect views of the traffic signs at the Bowmanstown exit. Schleicher said there would be about 600 feet between them and it should be no problem.

Dellecker said something should be included if there is an affirmative decision to control the brightness. Hoffman said the brightness can be changed manually, but the signs react to the amount of natural light.

In summary, Strohl said Schleicher wanted to replace the trailer signs with something more esthetically pleasing. Since they are off-premises PennDOT regulations would apply.

Preston said there were two applications. At the 248 site there are two signs that were never permitted as far as could be determined. It would be up to Schleicher to prove that they were nonconforming and if they are, there is no right to expand. The signs are not permitted in the commercial zoning district without a variance.

The Prince property already has multiple uses and he is not sure another use would be good for the borough. These things can be an eyesore, Preston said. No limitations on brightness were given. He recommended limiting brightness to 5,000-500 NITS. The board is not required to allow the permit.

"Be very careful because once they are up you're stuck with them," he concluded.

After consideration Borger made a motion to deny the Route 248 sign. A second motion permitted a 150 square foot LED sign to meet PennDOT regulations on the Prince property. It is to be 1,200 feet from any other sign

Schleicher will receive a written notice in 45 days and then has 30 days to appeal.

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