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Zoning Board side steps Hetzel billboard - not their job

Ridley Park's Zoming Board denying an appeal by a group of residents concerning the building permit to Lockridge Outdoor Advertising Inc. for the billboard in Hetzel Park. Barbara Ormsby files this story for the DelCoTimes.

Zoning board member Robert Galbraith told residents at the hearing that it is not the responsibility of the zoning hearing board to issue permits or amend the zoning the code.

However, zoning board President Dan Guy, after hearing testimony from several residents about flashing lights from the 120-foot-tall billboard shining in the windows of their homes, and the electrical cable to the structure that is allegedly in violation of the code because it is not underground, said he feels there are some things the board is missing.

“We don’t know if the structure is built according to code or if the electrical cable is in violation, we don’t know what the opinion of the fire chief is (regarding fire safety issues),” Guy said, adding that the zoning code officer must put these things in compliance and enforce the matter of the flashing lights.

Mike O’Brien, one of the appellants who lives in the Hetzel Park neighborhood where the billboard is located, testified that he never saw a zoning notice posted in Hetzel Park about the planned billboard until he saw a lot of heavy equipment brought into the park in August 2013.

Maureen Koch, who lives at 39 Collier Circle, testified that lights from the billboard sign shine into her home every time an advertisement changes, flashing across her side windows. She contended that LED lights are required to have guards installed that would prevent lights from shining on residential properties.

Charles Sweedler, the attorney representing the appellants, said the Pennsylvania Outdoor Advertising Control Act prohibits flashing or intermittent lighting on billboards that project outward.

“This is a specific violation of the billboard control act,” Sweedler said of Koch’s complaint.

Sweedler also represents the group of residents opposed to the billboard in the borough owned park in a case to be heard in Delaware County Court of Common Pleas.

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