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Neighbors say bright, flashing sign in West Kittanning interferes with sleep

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 1:06 a.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
The bright images on an electronic billboard along Butler Road in West Kittanning have been problematic for neighboring residents, who claim it lights up their homes. The billboard spurred council to begin working on an ordinance to set limits on electronic signs.

West Kittanning resident Patty Colberg has tried everything — blinds, thick curtains and sheers — but a bright electronic billboard along Butler Road still keeps her up at night.

“It's always bright and flashing, and casts shadows in my living room and bedroom,” Colberg said. “Even with your eyes closed, you can tell when the advertisements change on that sign.

“It's like having a drive-in movie without sound going all night long, every night.”

Since Butler's Oliver Outdoor Billboard Signs put up the 12-foot by 40-foot electronic sign two years ago, Colberg said she and neighbors have had a hard time distinguishing night from day. Colberg said she contacted sign owner Jaymie Oliver, who began dimming the sign at night two weeks ago.

Oliver did not return a call seeking comments.

But Colberg said the sign is still too bright.

“We can notice it's dimmer, but it's still bright and constantly flashing,” Colberg said. “We still can't sit out on our porches at night, but we're still looking to compromise so it can be shut off through the night, so we can sleep.

“Right now, we have our house boarded up, and it feels like we live in a cave.”

Colberg said she isn't trying to get the sign taken down; she just wants the sign to be turned off at night.

Now, the West Kittanning Borough Council is stepping in. On Tuesday, Solicitor Andrew Sacco presented a draft ordinance that would set limits on electronic signs and advertising, specifically the brightness and hours they can be illuminated.

“We need to take time to review and research this ordinance to see how other communities have done it, because it's too important and too involved to make a quick decision,” Sacco said. “This is going to be a big-time decision.”

Borough secretary Carly Cowan said officials already have an advertising sign ordinance in place, which limits the size and placement of billboards, but it does not address electronic sign issues.

Council members Cliff Neal, Ken Trudgen and Paula Henry volunteered to form a committee to review the draft ordinance and prepare a discussion for the April 7 council meeting.

“The more I think about it, the more upset I get, and I'm glad they're pursuing this,” Colberg said. “I understand people have to advertise, but it shouldn't be at the inconvenience of someone else.”

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