Peters drafting changes in digital sign ordinance

Technology changes now make color less distracting, council told

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Businesses along Route 19 in Peters may soon have a new electronic sign option, after council heard from a business owner Monday who urged them to rethink an ordinance that's less than 2 years old.

"We've invested a considerable amount of money and time renovating," said Stacey Pape, owner of SP Floors & Design Center at 2917 Washington Road.

Ms. Pape told council members that she'd spent "millions" of dollars to purchase and renovate the site, which formerly housed Ethan Allen furniture store, but her plans for a digital outdoor sign with color were dashed when council in July 2011 changed an ordinance as she was in the process of buying the property.

The ordinance change is important to her, Ms. Pape said, because several high-end manufacturers require her to advertise their products in color.

Though digital electronic signs are permitted under the ordinance, they are limited in size and must have a black background with red or amber letters.

The idea behind the ordinance was to prevent Route 19 from looking like the Las Vegas strip, with flashing, excessively bright lights that could distract drivers and annoy residents.

But, advances in digital technology now make it possible for the brightness level to be adjusted throughout the day to comply with local regulations, Ms. Pape said.

She brought along computer animated photos to show council members the difference between a color digital sign and older technology. Color images can also now be displayed without scrolling or flashing.

"Technology has really come a long way," she said.

With the exception of Councilman Robert Lewis, council agreed with Ms. Pape and asked the township planning department to craft changes to the ordinance that would allow color digital signs, such as the one proposed by Ms. Pape. They will likely be limited to commercial corridors, such as Route 19.

"I think we ought to revisit our ordinance," Councilman James Berquist said.

Mr. Lewis said he wasn't convinced that the changes were a good idea and complained that business owners on Route 19 don't care for their properties as well as they could.

"The two most attractive buildings on Route 19 are for dead people," Mr. Lewis said, referencing funeral homes.

There will be public hearings before any new recommendations from the planning department are accepted.

Also Monday, council heard from a resident near Maple Lane, where a $3,400 traffic calming study was approved unanimously by council.

Jack Adams said speeding along Maple has reached crisis level, even causing him to fear for his life when he mows his lawn near the roadway.

"We have a serious problem," said Mr. Adams, who said out-of-control vehicles have driven into his backyard to avoid accidents. "Somebody is going to get killed or hurt; it's just a matter of time."

The traffic study is being conducted by TPD Engineering and will explore various traffic calming options, such as rumble strips or speed humps to slow motorists. There will be public hearings before any recommendations are adopted.

Council also:

• Approved an ordinance that creates speed limits and stop signs on several new and existing roads, including a new traffic light at the corner of Center Church and East McMurray roads; a 5-ton weight limit on Hays Road to deter construction traffic; conversion of a yield sign to a stop sign at the intersection of Lampliter and Candlelite roads; and a no-parking section on Quail Run Road, at the request of homeowners.

• Asked township manager Michael Silvestri to investigate whether the township -- and possibly affected residents -- can get a refund from Waste Management after trash pickup snafus at Christmastime.

A driver who became ill suddenly caused delays in trash pickup in late December, as did inclement weather on the weekend before Christmas.

About one-fifth of the township experienced delays costing about $7,285.

• Appointed several residents to serve on the township Youth Commission, including: Kellie Rogers Bootman, for a term expiring in 2014; Raymond Hsieh, for a term expiring in 2015; and Jamison Hardy, whose term expires in 2016.

neigh_south - neigh_washington

Janice Crompton: jcrompton@post-gazette.com or 412-851-1867.


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