The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

December 24, 2013

Lamar sues to replace billboard

By Joe Pinchot
Herald Staff Writer

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP — Lamar Advertising Co. has appealed the Springfield Township Zoning Hearing Board’s denial of its request to replace a billboard.

Lamar, of Girard, Ohio, has a billboard on the Elephant and Castle property, 1924 Leesburg Grove City Road, which is static on the west side and tri-vision – an electronic billboard that switches between three messages – on the right.

Lamar asked to be allowed to demolish the existing billboard and put up a digital message billboard at a cost of $150,000. The proposed billboard would change every eight seconds and rotate six messages, with the opposite side remaining static.

The existing billboard was erected in 1995 and the township supervisors in 2001 outlawed billboards in the C-1 commercial zoning district, making the Lamar billboard a nonconforming structure, according to the board opinion dated Nov. 6.

By 2-1, the board denied the request, saying Lamar is not proposing to extend, enlarge or replace a nonconforming structure but to build “an entirely new and different sign, which constitutes an abandonment of the existing nonconforming structure,” according to the board opinion.

Michaeleen Smoker and James Hathaway voted to deny the request at a Sept. 26 hearing while George F. Horchler voted for it.

In its appeal to Mercer County Common Pleas Court filed Dec. 4, Lamar contested the conclusion that it is abandoning a nonconforming structure, and noted the board called it a nonconforming use in its legal notices, and a nonconforming structure in its opinion.

The board’s opinion cited case law that said there is no constitutionally protected right to change from one nonconforming use to another, and that billboards are structures and not uses.

Lamar said the conversion would have no adverse effect on the public health or safety, and the board acted unreasonably and arbitrarily.