Pattye Benson

Community Matters

A “Community Not Divided” – The Fate of the Digital Billboard Rests With Zoning Hearing Board – Final Decision October 24

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.

As I said last night, I have lived here for many years and am engaged in community issues. There are always at least two sides to any of these issues, with the ultimate outcome producing winners and losers. Not so on the digital billboard, we are not divided; there is only one side. Since August 2018, I have spoken to many people on this topic and have yet to find a resident who supports the idea of digital billboard in the middle of Paoli or who thinks it’s a good idea.

As Catalyst Outdoor Advertising attorney John Snyder and the township attorney Tony Verwey had both rested their cases at the July 25 meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board, the special 6 PM meeting last night was dedicated to residents’ comments on the proposed digital billboard. And speak they did, a steady stream of residents speaking out against the proposed billboard, just as other residents had done at the two previous Zoning Hearing Board meetings. Many residents spoke at these three meetings and not one voice of support for the proposed billboard. An important community issue, it was however sad to note that not a single township supervisor attended the meeting last night.

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!

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  1. Thanks for all you have done for this! Question, though. Who does Catalyst think is going to advertise on this board? I assume the local business owners are opposed to this as well. What happens to that building may be out of our hands, but we certainly can agree to NOT advertise with Catalyst! Maybe some public notice of this by the business owners would help?

    1. I’m still hoping that there’s not going to be a digital billboard — always the glass full approach! If the Zoning Hearing Board upholds the township decision and Catalyst loses the appeal, it may not be over but would be out of the township’s jurisdiction. Catalyst could then appeal the decision to Chester County Court of Common Pleas and the community continues to wait. After all the opposition to the digital billboard, I think a local business would be crazy to advertise on the billboard should it happen. But of course there’s lots of national advertisers that wouldn’t have that same issue. Here’s hoping that it doesn’t come to that – fingers-crossed!

    1. The ZHB members are not employees of the township.

      To clarify, from the township website, the following is the Zoning Hearing Board description:
      Appeals for relief from decisions of the Zoning Officer and/or requirements in the Zoning Ordinance are handled by the Zoning Hearing Board. The three members of the Zoning Hearing Board and three alternate members are appointed by the Supervisors. This board of volunteer residents is a quasi-judicial body whose decisions are not subject to the approval of the supervisors.
      The current ZHB members are listed as follows – all are attorneys:
      Daniel F. McLaughlin, Chairman
      Tara LaFiura, Vice-chairperson
      Neill C. Kling
      The alternate ZHB members are listed as follows – all are attorneys:
      Julianne Peck
      Lindsay Andreuzzi
      Mark Sheppard

  2. Pattye,

    It takes a lot of courage just to show up. YOU not only show up, you bring your voice, your passion and your LOVE for this community.

    Most people think that if given the chance to be heard that they would speak up. Few actually do. Giving voice to issues makes our community better. You are changing the culture around here. People are coming together and feeling more empowered to break their silence and have a voice in the way their tax dollars are spent and on how decisions made by officials will impact the community.

    Thank-you for your valued service. YOU deserve the very best!

    To the community, No matter your opinion or the outcome, it’s important to voice your ideas ——be heard. Pattye provides the strength, leadership and platform for all of us to do just that.

  3. I think it is a disgrace that the supervisors did not show up for such a important meeting. I have lived in this community for over 40 years and feel that this sign would be a eye sore to the area and cause more accidents then we already have due to a congested intersection. I sure hope it doesn’t happen.

    1. Yes, Helen I’m with you. Probably one of the most important township-wide issues in recent years, I agree that at least one of the township supervisors should have attended. There was a re-scheduled Tredyffrin Democrats barbecue which had the attention of the ‘D’ supervisors but that doesn’t explain the absence of the ‘R’ supervisors. Regardless of the absence of elected officials, residents attended this Zoning Hearing Board meeting (and the previous two meetings) and had their voices heard! We have done all that we could — let’s hope it was enough!

  4. Let’s get this straight. Are you telling us that our elected officials opted to go to a barbecue instead of attending the digital billboard meeting?

  5. To clarify, I know that some of our supervisors were at a barbecue but I don’t know why the others did not attend. All I know for certain is that NO elected officials attended the Zoning Hearing Board meeting.

  6. FYI to all. Clockworks is moving their business to Chestnut Street in Paoli. They will be next to Citizen’s Bank in the space that was formerly occupied by the Putaway Shop. Planned move date is Aug 30. Please continue to give them your support.
    They cited ‘instability’ as the primary reason for their move.

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