Dinniman seeks guidelines for electronic billboards

State Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-19).

State Sen. Andrew Dinniman (D-19).

State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19) said that he is drafting legislation to establish guidelines for the placement of the large electronic and digital billboards that are appearing alongside roadways and near neighborhoods throughout Chester County. 

“I have been contacted by constituents voicing numerous concerns about these digital billboards, most recently the two-sided one located on Route Bypass 30 in Downingtown,” Dinniman said. “It is my job to stand up for the residents of Chester County on issues like this, which directly impact their quality of life.”

In Downingtown, residents of North Lake Drive recently met with Dinniman to discuss the impact the billboard is having on their lives, particularly in the evening and night hours when its lights shone into their homes.

One North Lake Drive resident, Bobbi Jo Broomell, described the billboard as being “too bright” and looking like “a huge movie screen in the sky.”

“You have to see this to believe it. Just travel off 113 down Farmhouse and you enter into another galaxy,” she wrote in an e-mail to Dinniman. 

In recent years, residents in both Phoenixville and Lower Oxford have also expressed concerns regarding the light pollution, traffic safety, and other issues related to such billboards.

In 2012, the Phoenixville Zoning Board ruled against a challenge to its ordinances, which would have allowed such a sign to be constructed along Nutt Road. Last January, the Lower Oxford Supervisors approved an ordinance allowing a video billboard along Route 1, but residents and officials continue to debate the future of such a project. Meanwhile, large electronic billboards have been erected on Route 202 in East Goshen and in Concord Township near the Delaware Border.

Dinniman, who during his time as Chester County commissioner served as one of the principal architects of the county’s award-winning open space program, said he was compelled to act to protect Chester County’s investments in open space, residents’ quality of life, homeowners’ property values, and other lighting and environmental issues.

“Chester County has invested millions of dollars in preserving our open spaces and scenic vistas. To let huge, digital billboards overrun the countryside would be contrary to all our efforts to protect our region’s rural charm, natural viewsheds, and local communities,” he said. “We are seeing these signs proposed near residential neighborhoods, as well as some of the last bastions of agricultural open space in the county.”

Dinniman, who serves on the Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, said he was in the process of drafting legislation that would require municipalities to do the following when considering or approving proposed digital or electronic billboards: 

  • Consider and update lighting concerns regarding a proposed electronic billboard’s lighting impact on local residents and neighborhoods.
  • Take into account the potential impact on open space and the preservation of open space viewsheds
  • Consider the potential loss of real estate property value on nearby homes and businesses.
  • Consider vehicle accident rates on roadways and study a proposed electronic billboard’s potential to distract drivers.

Furthermore, Dinniman said his legislation will change the permit process by which PennDOT approves such “off-premise” signs. Under his bill, PennDOT will be required to include local municipalities in its site review process before granting any such permits on its rights of way.

“Right now, municipalities can regulate such electronic billboards, but not completely ban them,” he said. “Local leaders deserve to have a seat at the table when PennDOT is considering approving such an application. After all, we are the ones that live here.”

“The bottom line is this is Chester County, not Las Vegas,” he added.

For more information, call Senator Dinniman’s office at 610-692-2112 or e-mail acirucci@pasenate.com.

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  1. Jimmy Renfield says:

    I find it a bit ironic that Dinniman just woke up to these billboards after his opponent Jack London began advertising on this medium. Dinniman feels the pressure coming in the fall so this is how he reacts? This is a cheap political stunt to benefit himself first and foremost.

  2. Roger J. Brown says:

    Ban all electronic billboards. We’re not Las Vegas. Or Times Square.

  3. I’m curious about Thaddeus Bartkowski III. The only political sign I saw from his company was in support of John Birch Society extremist Pat Sellers when he ran for the PA 6th Congressional District in 2010. The Pat Sellers for Congress electronic billboard was along the Rt. 30 Bypass in Downingtown. There was another Pat Sellers for Congress Billboard on Rt. 30 west of Coatesville.
    See this for information about Pat Sellers for Congress. He lives in Texas now:

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