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Latrobe officials consider new limits on electronic signs

Jeff Himler
| Monday, Jan. 22, 2018, 9:06 p.m.
The city of Latrobe municipal building, at Jefferson and Main streets.
Jeff Himler | Tribune-Review
The city of Latrobe municipal building, at Jefferson and Main streets.

Downtown Latrobe has gained a handful of electronic signs over the years, and city officials are considering changing regulations that govern the bright marquees to keep them from becoming a collective eyesore.

“I'm a little concerned about having too many neon signs downtown,” said Mayor Rosie Wolford. “Our ordinance allows them, but we might want to limit that.”

Wolford suggested that a proliferation of such signs could detract from the architectural aesthetics and parklets that give Latrobe's business district its character.

“I don't think we want to start looking like the Vegas strip,” she said.

Most other electronic signs in town are “pretty subtle” compared with the periodically scrolling and multi-colored marquee that stands outside the Latrobe municipal building at Main and Jefferson streets, noted Ann Powell, the city's code enforcement and zoning officer.

She said the city could reduce the maximum allowable dimension of any additional electronic signs from the current 60 square feet.

“We want to bring businesses into the downtown,” Councilman John Murtha said. ”We can't restrict them too much.”

“Why don't we make them a conditional use” under city zoning, board member Jim Kelley suggested.

“Then they would all come to council” for review and approval, Powell noted.

Councilman Gerald Baldonieri said an electronic sign at a nearby business often shines in a window at his family's home.

Powell noted the city has the power to have a sign modified or removed if it becomes a nuisance.

Solicitor Zachary Kansler said an electronic sign should not be within 100 feet of a residence and should direct the glow from its lights downward instead of outward. There also is a limit on how rapidly the sign's message can change.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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