Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Digital Billboard Appeal by Catalyst POSTPONED until Wednesday, May 29 – Now you can attend ‘Jefferson’s Daughters’ Lecture on April 25!

First, I must thank Matt Baumann, Tredyffrin Township’s assistant township manager for notifying me today (Sunday!) that the digital billboard appeal by Catalyst Outdoor has been postponed. Witness availability precipitated Catalyst’s request for the date change and a special Zoning Hearing Board hearing for the appeal is now scheduled for Wednesday, May 29, 7 PM. Please mark your calendars!

You may notice that additional BAN the Digital Billboard signs went up in the last view days in and around Paoli. Not anticipating that the Zoning Hearing Board date would be changed, here’s hoping that these signs will not be stolen during the next 30 days — we need them to stay up!

Sometimes things in life just happen the right way … I had been stressing about this upcoming Zoning Hearing Board meeting because it conflicted with Tredyffrin Historic Preservation Trust’s spring lecture also scheduled for Thursday, April 25. For 15 years, as president of the Trust I have never missed a lecture but yet knew that I had to attend the Zoning Hearing Board appeal.

I am so grateful that I can now attend this special lecture with author and Villanova University history professor Catherine Kerrison. Dr. Kerrison will present her latest book, ‘Jefferson’s Daughters’, the remarkable untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters — two white and free, one black and enslaved. (Click here for lecture flyer). And how great that the author is a Berwyn resident!

The lecture is Thursday, April 25, 7 PM Reception, 7:30 PM Lecture at historic Duportail House in Chesterbrook. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on the Trust website, Following the lecture, books will be available for purchase and signing by the author!

So glad that Catalyst postponed their Zoning Hearing Board appeal — this is a not-to-be missed lecture!

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  1. Thanks Pattye,

    Why do you think Catalyst postponed the meeting?

    I saw all the signs up and around Paoli, Berwyn and Devon. Hopefully, they’ll stay.

    1. Yes, let’s hope that the signs are not stolen, ugh! The reason that was given by Catalyst for the postponement was “witness availability”. Also should mention that the Saul Ewing attorney representing Catalyst understands that there is a cost factor to the township for advertising the public hearing, etc. and stated that his client would pay the additional costs for the change. Remember, Catalyst has spent $13K to the township for the Zoning Hearing Board appeal.

  2. Thanks.

    Can you expand on what witness availability means. Self explanatory but what witnesses are they calling and what for?

    Keep the billboard out of Paoli.

    1. The applicant needed a witness that was not available on 4/25. I don’t think that the applicant is obligated to tell the public who they are calling as witnesses. My guess it could be safety ‘experts’ who will testify that there are no additional risks associated with a digital billboard.

  3. The Digital Billboard issue goes more deeply than historic preservation…it’s also about privacy preservation.
    My initial questions were: “What is the advantage to the local residential and business community? What revenue, if any, does the township receive for their presence there? Who are their advertisers? How will they determine what advertisements and visuals are appropriate to this suburban location (a block away is a church and private homes). School buses headed to Tredyfrin pass this way)? What are the children seeing while sitting at a light?
    Researching my next question – What are the harmful effects of EMF radiation from such a digital billboard, and the radius of the EMF effects? – brought up another, more serious, issue. –
    Perhaps the reason they want it at that location is the opportunity for DATA MINING, a capability of digital billboards. People from the surrounding communities (I think I read somewhere, Chester County is in the top 20 wealthiest counties in the nation) use this intersection. I did not do exhaustive research, however, excerpts from one article I read regarding data mining and digital billboards follow.

    “The Big Brother Channel: Broadcaster Involved in Intel Gathering
    Privacy advocates quickly blasted Stevens’ assessment that Clear Channel’s Big Brother billboard was merely an extension of current data targeting methods. “People have no idea that they’re being tracked and targeted,” said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.
    Privacy advocates also contend that Clear Channel’s billboards are an illegal intrusion upon an individual’s privacy, noting the impossibility of informed consent when tracking the public. Industry officials often counter that the accepted terms of agreement provide provisions allowing for data collection, which the consumer accepts by simply using the product.
    Clear Channel announced their new digital billboards, named “Radar,” on Monday. Since then, millions of unsuspecting people in cities across the US, including Los Angeles and New York, have already fallen victim to a legally-dubious intrusion on their privacy.
    Andy Stevens, a research senior vice-president at the advertising giant, observed that “obviously the data is very valuable to an advertiser.” Still, Stevens acknowledged that the company’s surveillance-style billboards “sound a bit creepy.” He downplayed concerns
    of indiscriminate data-mining by claiming that, “It’s easy to forget that we’re just tapping into an existing data ecosystem.
    “Clear Chanel Outdoor explains how its billboard technologies work in a slick video aimed at prospective advertisers. The video says:
    From traditional and digital roadside displays to commuter and airport hubs and the towering screens of Times Square, out-of-home advertising is unskippable, captivating hundreds of millions of consumers every month. Now, with its RADAR analytic suite, Clear Chanel Outdoor brings digital audience insights and targeting to out-of-home’s physical world.

    “Here’s how it works: Using anonymous aggregated data from consumer cellular and mobile devices, RADAR measures consumers’ real world travel patterns and behaviors as they move through their day.

    “The video goes on to explain that by capturing and “analyzing data on direction of travel, billboard viewablility, and visits to specific destinations,” the company is able to sell advertising to companies, based not just on where consumers live, but on how they live and where they go. Because RADAR builds a profile on each person (which Clear Chanel Outdoor claims is anonymous), it can “help advertisers measure consumer behavior following exposure to an out-of-home ad.
    “Schumer correctly pointed out that the promises of anonymity are meaningless. “We all know that it’s a short step away from tracking this data and holding it to attaching your name to it,” he said, adding, “They have huge amounts of information on you. Who knows what they could use it for? It’s something straight out of a scary movie. The scariest part is that the average cellphone user has no say in whether this happens.”

    “The issue at stake here is whether Clear Channel Outdoor Americas — the media company which owns and operates the billboards — is engaged in unfair trade practices. The billboards use a variety of technologies, including cellular, WiFi, and location information to track people who drive or walk by the billboards to determine whether the billboard influenced their decision to buy the advertised product or service.”

    My final note is wondering what is the radius around the billboard of ability to data mine. As technology increases, the board capability will likely be upgraded, and does that reach into private homes, mining medical supplies and services, and other personal information. Can this information be sold by Catalyst, and, if so, at what point does Catalyst lose control of what their buyers of the information do with the information and to whom they other parties sell it?

    I’m not a tech person, or a marketing person. I’m interested in a deeper look into the issue of a digital billboard in our community. My advice is “Just Say No.”

    1. Yes, certainly this proposed digital billboard in Paoli is more than about historic preservation (Clockworks building is just a byproduct). Although not a fan of any digital billboard, there is a big difference between seeing them on an interstate highway like 95 vs the intersection of Lancaster Ave and Rt. 252. Although the Zoning Hearing Board appeal is to digitize the small stationary sign next to Clockworks – this is not the endgame. Catalyst has proposed two gigantic billboards, memorial style with a ‘Welcome to Tredyffrin Township’ and reflecting pool! Ugh! I cannot imagine!

      You bring up some good points, including privacy issues. I have been focused on the safety concerns with distracted drivers and the visual blight on the community. As for an economic benefit to the township — I have previously stated that there is NONE! There is already property taxes paid on the parcel and all I heard Catalyst offer to the township was a certain amount of ‘free advertising’ minutes. Thank you, but NO so I don’t call that increased revenue. As for the advertisers, now that’ interesting. When Catalyst was asked if the township would have review of the types of advertising, etc. the response was vague with their CEO commenting that the actual advertising had never been a problem. He went on to say that the number one advertiser on digital billboard was car dealerships. A local biologist contacted me about the reflecting pool suggesting unwanted problems as a result.

      It’s interesting that since I started this BAN the Digital Billboard campaign last fall, I have yet to find anyone in this community that thinks its a great idea — but then maybe the local car dealerships don’t share my sentiments. I agree that the response needs to be, “Just Say No”!

  4. Thanks, Pattye, for answering some of my initial questions.

    I’ll say, we don’t have enough local dealerships to merit kowtowing to their needs!

    Also, I’m well aware of Catalyst and their billboards, and the character of their employees. Not a fan.

    Do township officials take some kind of an oath? I’d like to see it, if so. I would hope, their job is to uphold community interests and to ensure that any issues/undertakings within the township are thoroughly researched for safety as well as benefit to the community. Can I say “thoroughly researched” again?
    Privacy is not a small matter, and the digital billboard issue of privacy brought up pages on Google when it loaded! A lot of news articles and discussions. If the Township Supervisors to pretend this is a non-issue is a very poor reflection of their intellectual and moral capacity to serve the community. IMO.
    This issue may be the evidential ballast the community and the Township needs to swing the disinterested, to motivate the engaged — and to give a broader view to Township Officials to act in the best interest of the community …. which is to “Just Say No.”

    1. Had to chuckle when you mentioned Catalyst and “quality of their employees” — obvious that you have done your homework! :)

      To the credit of the township, they did deny Catalyst’s application to digitize the existing billboard which precipitated the appeal. In all the many years that I have lived here, I have never seen the community so united on a single issue — and we will fill Keene Hall at the township building to overflowing on Wednesday, May 29. There should be NO doubt to anyone, that this community is taking a stand against digital billboards and agree that the privacy issue is serious and not to be dismissed.

    2. Thank-you Malvern Resident. This information is just another compelling reason to:


      To digital bill boards

  5. The Supervisors will respond to a large, animated crowd of townspeople. Don’t let them off the hook: demand that no digital billboard be put up. Anywhere. Ever. When you go bring your family and friends. The Supervisors like the perks from the special interests, but they want to stay in office more. Put the pressure on them and don’t let up.

  6. Drove by the site and took a good look today. The irony jumped out. The Clockworks building has 9 signs on or near it that advertise the business. It has another 9-10 that are road signs. It looks like 3 wood posts to add some additional signage are being installed.

  7. My comment was not about the lawn signs. My comment was about all the signs that are currently already on the Clockworks site. And I forgot one, the billboard that is already there. I’ll try to grab a picture and post it.

      1. Do you find no irony in the fact that the argument is about erecting one sign in a place where there are already about 20, at least 9 of which will be replaced by the new sign?

        1. No irony. There is without a doubt, no comparison between a lawn sign and a gigantic dangerous, intrusive digital billboard.

          What is the real reason for your comment?

  8. leave it alone. there is an abudance of signage at that intersecton already not including the hideous lawn signs everywhere that “cheapen” the look of the town. Why isn’t anyone focusing on the huge eyesore called the paoli train station and the traffic circle to be placed at n valley road and central ave NJ got rid of them for a reason

    1. Welcome, admire, approve and accept the Ban the Digital billboard campaign.

      The lawn signs are working. We need more of them, not less. They’re well made and pleasing to the eye. It keeps the message in the minds of the community. They do not cheapen our community. They remind us of who we want to be going forward.

      Are there more lawn signs? I’d like to see more go up.

      1. I don’t believe “taxpayer” is talking about the ban the billboard signs. I believe they are talking about all the other lawn signs at that intersection and many other intersections.

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