The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

April 1, 2013

More billboards, additional blight, added dangers

— We’re disappointed that the Richland Township supervisors apparently are willing to welcome additional electronic billboards. The municipality already is home to at least six digital billboards, all in commercial districts, according to its zoning officer, Dave Mills.

We believe that’s six too many.

Richland is the latest local government entity in the East Hills revisiting their policies and ordinances as advertising companies continue making their rounds, selling their obnoxious wares to government leaders and the people they represent.

In January, we urged Geistown Borough officials to stop and think long and hard before approving a request for additional LED-lit signs.

At least one council member saw the repercussions.

“We’re in an era where everyone’s saying don’t text or talk on the phone when you drive ... but there are big, flashing billboards taking your attention off the road,” Councilman Joe Sernell told fellow board members.

We applauded him in an editorial for his insight.

While billboards in general create additional landscape blight, we believe flashing, bright, sometimes-eye-popping electronic billboards are dangerous in that they distract motorists.

We do commend Richland officials for promis-ing stepped-up enforcement on existing billboard laws.

As reported by our David Hurst, recent checks of existing billboards and digital signs showed some contained animation or short video clips, both of which are banned by current township law.

“We’ll be sending notices out about that,” Solicitor Gary Costlow informed the supervisors.

Meanwhile, here’s another suggestion for the supervisors and other municipal leaders: Consider requiring the elimination of four standard billboards for every electronic monster to be erected.

We know a lot of area residents feel the same as we do about a growing billboard problem.

We urge them to speak up before it’s too late.

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