Legislative Update in Pennsylvania

June 2011Newsletters In the Zone

House Bill No. 1273 proposes to amend the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code (MPC) by adding a new section, Section 622, that would attempt to prohibit the location of certain signs in certain locations.

The proposed legislation defines the term “off-premises sign” to mean a sign that is either (1) a freestanding sign that is (a) is supported by one or more poles, uprights or braces, (b) consists of 32-square feet or more of gross surface area AND (c) is internally illuminated and visible from a public way that utilizes technology to permit the characters, letters or illustrations to be changed or rearranged by computer, electronically or mechanically, without altering the face of the sign; or (2) an outdoor, off-premises sign on which space is leased or rented by the owner thereof to others for the purpose of conveying a commercial or noncommercial message.

Interestingly, although the proposed legislation defines only the term “off-premises sign,” it places restrictions on what it calls an “advertising sign” and then provides a procedure for obtaining approval for an “off-premises sign.” It is possible the reference to an “advertising sign” should have been to an “off-premises sign,” but I am not 100 percent certain.

Regardless, the proposal provides the following restriction: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and except as otherwise provided in subsection (b), an advertising sign shall not be placed within 1,000 feet from the property line of an existing school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child care facility, church, meetinghouse or other actual place of regularly stated religious worship.”

However, the aforementioned subsection (b) provides that “an off-premises sign may be located less than 1,000 feet from the property line of an existing school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child care facility, church, meetinghouse or other actual place of regularly stated religious worship if, by majority vote of the governing body for the municipality, the governing body gives necessary approvals.”

The proposed legislation adds notice and procedural requirements, stating that at least 14 days prior to the governing body of a municipality voting on whether to allow an off-premises sign less than 1,000 feet from the property line of a school, public playground, public park, residential housing area, child care facility, church, meetinghouse or other actual place of regularly stated religious worship, one or more public hearings shall be held within the municipality following public notice. Additionally, the proposed legislation requires all owners of real property located within 1,000 feet of the proposed location be provided written notice of the public hearing at least 30 days prior to the public hearing.

For more information, please contact David H. Comer at 610.397.7963 or [email protected].

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