After months of complaints from two local businessmen, the Robinson commissioners Monday ordered administrators to come up with adjustments to the township's ordinance on temporary signs.
"I would like the manager, assistant manager and code enforcement officer to meet as soon as tomorrow and come up with some ideas we can discuss at our November meeting," said Dan Tallon, chairman of the commissioners.
The ordinance is intended to stem the tide of temporary banners and placards at township businesses; businesses that want to use them are required to pay for permits.
But Ernest Ricci, of Ricci's Italian Sausages, and Steve Taylor, of The Brothers Grimm bar and restaurant, have contended that enforcement of the ordinance is uneven at best and politically motivated at worst.
The two men, both active Republicans, contend that they have been targeted for citations and fines while others in the Democrat-controlled township have been left alone. Mr. Taylor last month produced about 80 photos of noncompliant signs at other businesses and said a check of the records revealed that only 30 percent had been cited. But he said he has been cited repeatedly when he steps across the line.
In July, Mr. Ricci said a township staffer stopped in his parking lot to take pictures. He said the staffer told him he was acting on orders of township zoning officer Rick Urbano, who was responding to an anonymous complaint.
"You told me [then] that you'd address it, and it's now October and I'd like to know what's being done," Mr. Ricci told commissioners.
"I checked the ordinance and was amazed to note that it is at the discretion of the zoning officer to enforce or not enforce the ordinance," Mr. Taylor said. "I'm astonished that you would put that power in the hands of one man."
Township Manager Rich Charnovich said Mr. Urbano has had health problems and has worked sparingly since early summer. He is now on medical leave.
Mr. Charnovich said he is frustrated with the sign ordinance as well, noting that the proliferation of businesses in Robinson makes it all but impossible to keep up.
Mr. Ricci asked the commissioners to "relax" the ordinance for 90 days while coming up with some solutions.
Some of the commissioners -- Republicans Jerry Brouker and Stephanie Triko-Selelyo -- were sympathetic to Mr. Ricci's request, but others worried that letting the matter slide would lead to a proliferation of signs.
"We can't enforce the ordinance anyway," Mr. Brouker noted.
The commissioners also discussed holding a town hall meeting on the issue to hear the concerns and ideas of business owners. One may be scheduled at a later date.
Brian David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 412-722-0086.