ShareThis Page

Robinson Township rethinks billboard rules

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:58 p.m.

After being challenged in court several times since 2007, Robinson is considering updating its laws to include specific rules for erecting electronic billboards.

“All the township is doing is essentially taking the guidance of the Commonwealth Court in an attempt to modernize its ordinance with respect to billboards,” said Bruce Boni, a Point Breeze-based special counsel representing the township.

After a public hearing, commissioners on Monday tabled a vote scheduled on the amendment until it receives comment on it from the Allegheny County Planning Commission.

Since 2007, Green Tree-based Lamar Advertising Co. has sought to erect an electronic billboard at 5320 Steubenville Pike. After the commissioners approved the conditional use to allow it, the estate of Richard Lang, owner of adjacent, vacant property, appealed the decision in the Allegheny County Common Pleas Court. Lawyers for the estate alleged the billboard would violate numerous provisions of Robinson's ordinance, including setbacks, proximity to a property line of a church, sign size and height limitations.

In June, the state Commonwealth Court upheld a June 2011 Common Pleas decision that favored Lang. Among its reasons were Lamar failed to meet as many as 14 ordinance requirements.

Robinson's proposed amendment, if approved, would extend the distance allowed between billboards from 750 feet to 2,000 feet. It also would expand the allowable size from 150 square feet to 300 square feet.

The amendment also lays out other rules, including prohibiting lights from operating between midnight and 5 a.m., prohibiting the display of animation or movement of the message display, and requiring the messages to remain unchanged for at least six seconds.

Lamar filed a new conditional-use application for an electronic billboard on Nov. 11, but the ordinance amendment would have to be adopted before that application would be considered, Planning Director Rick Urbano said.

Christopher Lang, executor of his father's estate, declined to comment at Monday's meeting, saying only, “We keep winning, and they keep appealing it.”

Several people spoke against the amendment during the public hearing, but none of them was a Robinson resident.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.