When is the last time you saw essentially EVERY local television network report on an issue in suburbia? Well they turned out in force for billboards in Bryn Mawr. This makes me happy personally, because I was at most of the billboard hearing meetings which began in May, 2009.
So the media should have said MORE than a decade when referring to when this issue began for the beleaguered residents of Bryn Mawr. And while the billboard location is Haverford Township, those billboards also will affect Lower Merion Township residents across Lancaster Avenue. I took the next photo on May 7, 2009. Residents bought blue tarps and put them all together so everyone could see how big a billboard would be. I’ve never forgotten this visual.
More than a decade later because it’s actually been 11 years for these Bryn Mawr billboards, the meeting rooms still get packed every time this company comes calling. And last night it wasn’t just residents. People from other communities and staff members from State Senators’ offices and State Representatives’ offices. I actually saw in one news report that State Representative Greg Vitali was there.
I spent years going to meetings about these billboards before I moved to Chester County. Then the issue seemed to slow down but I always felt they would be back. In the intervening years I have watched this billboard company go to Phoenixville (see this article too), Tredyffrin, West Whiteland, Charlestown (yes Charlestown!) and more. Now they want to come to East Whiteland.
And sorry not sorry, as is the case with many other things, East Whiteland seems kind of asleep at the municipal wheel and why? How many things are some of these Supervisors going to seemingly ignore?
Since 2008, Thaddeus J. Bartkowski III’s billboard wars have flared in more than a dozen communities in Delaware and Montgomery counties.
Now he is moving on Phoenixville, with the first shot fired toward the Chester County borough’s historic downtown.
If Bartkowski prevails, three electronic, V-shaped billboards, 12 feet high and 40 feet wide, will go up along Nutt Road, a major thoroughfare. They will rise 43 feet above a borough that has struggled to reinvent itself, filling the void of industrial decline with quaint shops, good restaurants, and gussied-up rowhouses…..In tonier Pennsylvania suburbs in particular, Bartkowski has tried to erect billboards by mounting legal challenges to municipal zoning codes.
He has used as ammunition Pennsylvania Supreme Court rulings dating to the 1960s that outlaw “exclusionary zoning,” typically in regard to low- and moderate-income housing. Municipalities may not restrict development in ways that keep out specific classes of people or kinds of businesses…..Attorney Jim Byrne, Bartkowski’s most notable opponent, represents six municipalities in their fight against the billboards. He contends they can bar the signs as long as the municipalities prove they represent a threat to the health, safety, and welfare of residents by, say, distracting drivers.