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With residents still seeking answers about the billboard being erected in their Hetzel Park neighborhood, council president Bob Berger told the residents at last week’s council meeting that a special question and answer session will be held 7 p.m. today.
More than a dozen residents complained about a lighted billboard under construction in Hetzel Park and questioned council on how this could happen. Barbara Ormsby was at the meeting and filed this story for the DelCoTimes. Photo image by RPOL member Michelle Vanella-Kudenko.
Complaints centered around the size of the sign, the lighting, the effect it could have on property values in their neighborhood and construction workers who were the site at 8 a.m. Saturday, a day that one woman said she was told was not part of the work week by sign installers.
But most of all, residents wanted to know why a billboard is going up at all in a residential neighborhood.
Borough solicitor Ernest Angelos explained that the billboard matter goes back seven years and is the result of a federal court order to settle a dispute between the Lamor Advertising company and the borough, that denied the company the zoning needed for the sign along Interstate 95. Angelos said the court ruling stated that the borough can regulate where billboards can be located but cannot restrict them.
“The federal judge said try to settle it, or if you go to trial, you are liable to get five billboards along Chester Pike because the (borough sign ordinance) is unconstitutional,” Angelos said.
Angelos said the lighted side of the sign will face I-95, not the residential area, and will only be seen by southbound traffic. He said the borough fought the lawsuit that challenged the borough code, but once it got to the federal level, the cost was prohibitive.
“The sign is directly in front of my house. Will we get a tax break?” Hetzel Road resident Albert Rosetti asked council.
Ken Harper, a former borough councilman, asked Angelos how much money the borough will collect in fees from the billboard company and the solicitor said $35,000 a year per sign face.
Borough councilman Jared Brennan told the residents the borough failed to reach out to residents affected by the sign even though it had been discussed at public meetings.
“Where we failed was not communicating with the residents,” Brennan said.