I do not like billboards, I can’t even pretend to think this abominations to our landscape are okay.
East Whiteland is one of many communities in the region who was in the opinion of residents bullied into billboards.
Soooo….you can imagine how upset residents near the site are that the billboard company did some clear cutting of trees etc?? Ummm don’t recall clear cutting in the plan??
Here is a statement from Scott Lambert, Chair of the East Whiteland Board of Supervisors:
A statement pertaining to the Catayst tree removal On the evening of June 30th, a resident with a keen eye notified the Township that extensive tree removal had been performed around the Catalyst billboard site situated along Rt. 202 and Conestoga Road. The resident provided disturbing pictures of the tree’s removal.
Pursuant to previously signed documents with 202 (L)East Whiteland Land Holdings LLC (Catalyst), no trees were to be removed without prior review and approval from the Township. This was a point of extensive conversations during the initial review process and an element of the project which the Board carefully negotiated in order to minimize impact to the site and surrounding properties.
I notified the Board, Staff and Solicitor that I wanted to conduct a site visit Friday morning to view, document, and secure the site from further ecological damage. Despite being a holiday weekend with a skeleton staff, I was joined at 11:15 am by our Codes Department, and our Township Engineers from ARRO – who had a representative drive in from Reading to assist with the information gathering. Members of our Codes Department then notified the Chester County Conservation District and PennDOT of the incident. At the site, we observed topped trees, extensive pruning, and complete removal of trees and vegetation – not only along Little Valley Creek but also on the steep slope areas leading down to the creek from the approved construction area. At this juncture, the township solicitor had not determined if the could be temporarily pulled and all work stopped. We proceeded with an action plan and received a commitment from the Catalyst site manager for the following:
1) No additional tree or vegetation removal would occur until Township approval had been granted
2) All earthwork and debris removal would cease until all stakeholders had input on an ecologically safe removal plan
3) To protect the Creek and stabilize the site to prevent erosion of the now barren slope, especially with the forecasted weekend storms they were to install erosion control devices (such as silt sock) as directed by our Engineer by the end of the day (This was completed).
4) All engineer costs related to this issue beginning immediately are to be paid by Catalyst.
Following the initial site visit, the Township hired an arborist to assess the physical damage to the trees and determine the potential monetary value of the trees that were trimmed or removed.
On Friday July 11th, the Board of Supervisors, our Solicitor and Staff met to discuss our response and on July 12th the Township sent a notice of default to Catalyst pursuant to the terms of the lease .
The township provided Catalyst with six conditions that must be met to cure (remove)the default, including a $151,000 penalty, plus an additional $15,000 for expenses incurred by the Township. Additional details regarding the conditions of the cure were read into the record during the Board of Supervisors meeting on July 13th. Should the conditions not be met, and payment not made by September 12th, the lease is terminated and the Township will demand Catalyst remove the sign at their expense will be found in default and will be terminated.
More information on this subject is available by viewing the July 13 2022 EWT Board of Supervisors meeting
~ scott lambert chair of east whiteland board of supervisors regarding the clear cutting by catalyst/east whiteland outdoor
I will update this post with the meeting video when it is available. In the interim take a good look at those photos. Way to go East Whiteland Outdoor LLC, way to extra stick it to the community and now what? I hear East Whiteland Township isn’t pleased either, are they?
Now I had heard billboards wanted to come to Upper Merion (township in Montgomery County adjacent to places like Lower Merion and Radnor Township in spots best known for the King of Prussia sprawl of malls) as in those giant things they call “monuments” that are on 202 in Chester County, Quakertown, attempted on Route 100 with a “farmer’s market”, and disposition unknown in East Whiteland on Route 30, and other places.
What I didn’t know in the Upper Merion situation until this morning when somebody pointed it out is that these billboards put a park at risk. Bob White Park to be precise. Who knew?
Apparently no one reads the papers because there was an article in Main Line Media News a while back:
📌📝UPPER MERION — Some call them signs, some call them digital billboards.
Catalyst Experiential, the company that creates mergers of “art, architecture and advertising” calls them monuments that integrate “visual communication technology with local landmarks, infrastructure, and community experience, which encompasses the display as well as the ambient light sensor and other technology.”📌📝
Whether or not Upper Merion Township will welcome the monuments in parks and underutilized parcels will not be decided until Nov. 12 when Upper Merion supervisors will again consider the concept after tabling the matter at Tuesday’s meeting….📝📌
The company was proposing installations at four locations, including Bob White Park, Betzwood Bridge, 795 W. DeKalb Pike and 216 Allendale Road.📌🎂
The proposed amendment to zoning ordinances to amend the Township’s Zoning Ordinance would permit and “encourage the innovative commercial use of certain lands within the Township” while establishing a township-wide communication platform.📝📌
The monument lease agreements would allow, among other things, a “proposed 30-year lease agreement with Croton Road Upper Merion Land Holdings, LLC for the lease of a portion of the property known as Bob White Park for the exclusive right to construct and maintain an off-premises advertising display subject to the terms and conditions outlined in said lease.”📝📌
Following a detailed presentation by Thaddeus Bartkowski, CEO of Catalyst Experiential, several residents voiced their concern about not having been informed about the hearing.📌📝
“All of these changes at Bob White Park are being made without any input from the residents,” said one resident. “None of us really knew until tonight what was going on. There’s lots of places to let us know … there’s social media. You could have shared the presentations with us. The workshop meetings used to be televised but they are no longer.📌📝
Interesting name cropped up if you click on article link and read the whole thing. Upper Merion has the same solicitor as East Whiteland Township, Chester County—Joe McGrory.
So again, I think the billboards are hideous and most locations in Upper Merion being proposed are locations already kind of hideous, but this whole plan for Bob White Park? Why has it gotten this far? Have Upper Merion officials lost their tiny minds?
So if I have this straight, billboard company wants to lease a portion of this park to erect a “monument” in a heavily wooded portion of park that faces the expressway? As in the Schyulkill Expressway? So maybe houses near the park wouldn’t have full on sign blast of light, merely an unhealthy glow potentially but that is not the real problem with this location is it? Isn’t the real horror of this location the potential RE-ZONING of park land to COMMERCIAL?
So OMG let me understand this: if Upper Merion re-zoned a public park to commercial land zoning wouldn’t that mean a park might not have legal protection if Jim Bob Shiny Bright Developer showed up down the road and tried to do something? Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ that is a dumb ass plan isn’t it?.
And apparently in return Upper Merion would get “park improvements”? Talk about sell your souls to the devil right?
So look, not my county, not my people, not my township. But fascinating in its proposed vulgarity, none the less. Upper Merion residents, I feel for you. No one likes these billboards, well except for the company who likes to build them.
I received a phone call in 2008 I think it was: “How do you feel about billboards because there is an imminent threat to Bryn Mawr?” When I heard the location, I was astounded. When I heard the proposed size of the billboards, I was also dumbfounded because I was told there were to be two proposed, with sizes of approximately 672 square feet each. That’s I-95 huge on the equivalent Main Street.
Back then one day I was sitting in a neighbor’s garden and I thought about those billboards. You see, gardens no matter how small are one of life’s great gifts. But what if billboards became the view? Because for a few small neighborhoods on the Main Line I felt that would be just awful.
We fought those billboards for years between Lower Merion and Haverford Townships. The billboard cases are STILL pending for Haverford Township I was told a few months ago, but I thought the issue was dead for Lower Merion Township until this afternoon when someone sent me this:
It doesn’t take a bloodhound led by Sherlock Holmes to figure out sadly who appears to be back:
Oy vey, it must be billboard groundhog day right?
They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When you’re talking about beautifying our communities, how are the billboards beautiful except to the guy fattening his wallet with them?
When these billboard issues are challenged it always seems as if the billboard companies think their First Amendment rights are being denied which I never get. Did our Founding Fathers help create the First Amendment so billboard-company owners could erect billboards in our communities? I believe this is an issue of public health, safety and welfare, yet here we are stuck on “need” versus “want” parading around in a constitutional-rights costume?
And can we all admit light pollution is real and digital billboards have the potential to be EXTRA distracting to drivers?
This same company has billboard nonsense still pending in Tredyffrin for Paoli where they wish to plunk their GIANT digital billboard down at 252 and Route 30 where the Okie Clockworks building is at present. My friend Pattye wrote this summer on her blog about it:
Thank you to the many residents who filled the seats of the township building or stood in the back of Keene Hall last night for the Zoning Hearing Board meeting. Thank you to the many residents who last night (and at the two previous Zoning Hearing Board meetings) eloquently delivered their message of “Just Say No” to a digital billboard at the intersection of Rt. 252 and Lancaster Avenue in Paoli.
As the last resident to speak in opposition to the digital billboard last night my words were simple, “we are not a community divided”! For eleven months, since Catalyst Outdoor Advertising first came to the township with their proposal to demolish the Clockworks building and install two large digital billboards and a reflecting pool, the community has stood in complete solidarity in its opposition. We do not want the digital billboard. Period….
So where do we go from here? After much discussion between the Zoning Hearing Board members, its solicitor and attorneys from the township and Catalyst Outdoor Advertising, a timeline for legal responses from both sides was established. Much of this discussion was difficult to follow but at the end, I asked two questions for clarification; (1) when would the residents who sought ‘party status’ know if it was granted and (2) when would the Zoning Hearing Board make their final determination.
There will be a special meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board on Thursday, October 24 (presumably at 7 PM but not announced). At that meeting, the public will learn which residents receive party status and we will know the decision of the Zoning Hearing Board.
As I said last night to the members of the Zoning Hearing Board, the final decision rests with them– the township heard the public and denied the application for the digital billboard and it’s now up to them to uphold and support. The public has spoken … this is not a community divided!
But we are talking about Lower Merion again here. I am somewhat gobsmacked that they are trying again given the last time they challenged Lower Merion Township on billboards. See article from December 2012:
That space on a wall facing Bryn Mawr’s Five Points intersection will remain blank, following a state court’s rejection of a billboard company’s appeal of a violation order in Lower Merion Township.
On Wednesday, a three-judge Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court panel upheld an Oct. 14, 2010, decision by the township’s zoning hearing board that an 8 ½-by-34-foot vinyl-wrapped sign on a building at 762-766 Old Railroad Avenue was illegal.
AdSmart Outdoor Advertising Inc. had appealed the zoning board’s decision to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas, which in February affirmed the township order. The company immediately took the matter to the higher court, but in March removed the billboard while the appeal was pending…..
The court found that AdSmart had not demonstrated good faith “in failing to seek any type of zoning approval” before erecting the sign, and rejected its request for the award of costs and fees.
Citing case law, Simpson wrote, “A person who completely disregards the requirement of securing a building permit cannot acquire any vested right in the structure.”
Mind you afterSuperior Court, this went to the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court and even THEY said no:
The Five Points Intersection billboard will stay down.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied Adsmart Outdoor Advertising‘s petition for an allowance of appeal, putting what looks to be an end to the longstanding controversy over the billboard that was removed last spring.
“It’s the final nail in the coffin for the Bryn Mawr billboard,” Lower Merion’s Ward 10 Commissioner Scott Zelov told his constituents in an email. “This is another victory against unwanted billboards that don’t belong in our suburban community.”
Appeal No. 4473
Applicant: 766 W. Railroad Outdoor, LLC
Property: 762, 764, & 766 West Railroad Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
known as tax map parcel nos. 40-00-48496-00-1; 40-00-48500-00-6; and
a.k.a. 762, 764, & 766 Old Railroad Avenue West, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
(Election District #10) C 2 Commercial District
The Applicant proposes to install a billboard sign on the exposed party wall between 762 and 764 West Railroad Avenue and is challenging the substantive validity of the Zoning Ordinance, in accordance with the PA Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) sections 909.1(a)(1) & 916.1(a)(1).
The Applicant contends that the Lower Merion Township Zoning Ordinance improperly restricts the development and use of land in the Township for billboards (i.e. off-site premises signage); specifically that 1) §155-93.3 E of the Zoning Ordinance limits the placement of billboards to properties only within the Manufacturing and Industrial zoning district, along with the dimensional requirements for billboards are a) unreasonable, arbitrary, unduly restrictive, exclusionary, and
not a valid exercise of the Township’s police powers, and b) unreasonably infringe upon an affected landowner’s constitutionally protected right to freely use and enjoy the landowner’s property for a billboard, 2) the provisions of §155-93.3 E, when taken together, make it such that there is no area within the Township where a billboard sign would be permitted, 3) §155-93.3 E is illusory in that it gives the impression that billboards are permitted but takes that ability away
with the imposition of the restrictions found in its provisions, and 4) §155-93.3 E is contrary to the MPC and PA case law as to billboard signage. The Applicant also challenges the ability of the Township to require the Applicant to fund an escrow account that reimburses the Township consultants and its legal counsel to provide services in opposition to this challenge application.
The Applicant requests that the Zoning Hearing Board find that §155-93.3 E of the Zoning Ordinance is invalid. Anyone interested in reviewing the application and plans may review this information in the Building Regulations Division at the Township Building, between 8:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday
through Friday. Anyone requiring special accommodations for the Meeting or the Hearing should contact this office at least three days prior to the hearing (610-645-6172 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
It’s that location again years later? WHY????
And who owns the building now? (I never knew back then.) Once again, everything old is new again…sigh. I no longer live in Lower Merion, but this is craziness in my humble opinion and I had to point it out. I will also note that not only is there the billboard issue in Tredyffrin I pointed out earlier in this post, there is whatever happened to the billboard issue in West Whiteland for Route 100 that would be next to where there was that fire recently and where does THAT stand?
Billboards are still blight upon our communities. We have enough screen time every day as it is that we don’t need them supersized and along our roads and in our communities, do we? Yet….