• Billboard Legal: Asserting Your Rights

    Don’t be shy about asserting your rights if a zoning or planning board doesn’t follow the rules.  That’s the lesson of Borough of Castle Shannon vs Steel City Billboards.  Insider talked with Steel City Billboards owner Mitchell Fowkes.

    What was the dispute?

    Steel City Billboards went to Castle Shannon Borough to apply for a size variance back in February 2017. The ordinance allows a 100 sq. ft. billboard in the commercial district and 150 sq. ft. in the industrial zone however a billboard would not be visible from any IZ lots. We figured we would apply for an extra 50 sq. ft. to make our digital stand out more. After applying for the size variance, a series of phone calls, and emails occurred between Steel City Billboards and the Borough as to when the hearing would take place. Sixty days had passed and there still was no hearing scheduled. We submitted a notice to the Borough that a Deemed Decision had occurred and later sent that decision to court after their appeal.

    Rendering of Steel City digital billboard right hand read.

    What happened in court?

    After the Judge heard our case and reviewed the evidence that a Deemed Decision did in fact occur he rendered in favor of Steel City Billboards. Municipalities Planning Code (MPC). 52 P.S. 10908(1.2) states: “The first hearing before the board or hearing officer shall be commenced within 60 days from the date of the receipt of the applicant’s application, unless the applicant has agreed in writing to an extension of time.” The MPC also provides that when the Board fails to commence the initial hearing within the prescribed time, the decision shall be deemed to have been rendered in favor of the applicant.
    Tell us about your new digital.

    Rendering of Steel City digital billboard left hand read

    Our new location is going to be the only digital billboard on this stretch of highway for miles. If I’m not mistaken, I believe it’s going to be the only one. We’re going to be providing local businesses a double sided 10’x20′ digital that they will get the opportunity to advertise on. Rt. 88 is congested with businesses and several strip malls. People driving by to and from work probably don’t have an idea of who their passing and when. We’ll be able to expose many great small businesses in the area to the thousands of people driving by this location everyday. We ordered 2  13mm digitals from Formetco. We have one 16mm which is just about 2 miles away from where this location is going but on a different road and it looks incredible. We can not wait to see what this one looks like!

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