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Proposed billboard gets green light in Cranberry

| Saturday, June 8, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
A billboard on the Northbound side of Route 19 near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Cranberry. Cranberry has given the okay to another billboard that will face Interstate 79. The billboard now needs approval from PennDOT.
Jasmine Goldband | Tribune-Review
A billboard on the Northbound side of Route 19 near the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Cranberry. Cranberry has given the okay to another billboard that will face Interstate 79. The billboard now needs approval from PennDOT.

Cranberry Township has given the OK to the first new billboard in the township in at least two decades, officials said.

The number of billboards decreased as the township became more developed, said Ron Henshaw, Cranberry's director of community development.

Billboards in Cranberry must, for example, be placed at least 800 feet from a business and can only be placed on commercial property.

The new billboard would face Interstate 79 from the end of Wisconsin Avenue.

The area is not residential, and no one has objected to the billboard.

Henshaw said the billboard now needs approval from PennDOT, a process that takes about 45 days once an application is made.

Statler Billboards of Latrobe plans to ask the state for permission to erect the billboard on the 1.4-acre site that overlooks southbound traffic along the interstate.

“It is very difficult to get PennDOT approval, and approval for this billboard is still not guaranteed,” said Kevin Dail, whose family owns Statler Billboards.

Cranberry has 11 other billboards.

Billboard advertising is most effective for small, local businesses, such as motels and restaurants, Dail said.

The Wisconsin Avenue site is occupied by Vermeer Sales & Service Inc., which sells heavy farm equipment. Company officials said they rent the space.

If the state approves the billboard, the property owner would collect revenue from it, Henshaw said.

State approval is largely dictated by federal requirements, said Ron McCrumb, who oversees outdoor advertising approvals for PennDOT's District 10, which includes Butler County.

“Interstates are more restrictive than other roads for billboards,” he said.

Billboards must not be larger than 150 square feet. They have to be at least 500 feet apart and they can not disrupt vegetation. PennDOT also restricts how they can be illuminated.

Roads like I-79 that receive federal funding must comply with the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, which sets limits on billboards, outdoor advertising and roadside eyesores.

Four states — Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont — ban all billboards.

Still, billboards and other types of outdoor advertising are big business, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

Last year, outdoor advertising — a category that also includes advertisements on public transportation and large sports arena displays — was a $6.7 billion industry, according to the association.

There are nearly 163,000 billboards in the United States. About 4,000 are digital.

According to PennDOT, Pennsylvania has 14,127 billboards on its highways — far more than any other state in the Northeast. New York, which has 5,028 billboards, is second.

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at

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