Inside Your Town

Proposed digital billboards cause angst in Easton

Proceeds from the billboards would fund Hackett Park improvements

EASTON, Pa. - Two proposed digital billboards on the grounds of Hackett Park are causing consternation for a local venture capital firm owned by developer Abraham Atiyeh.

An attorney representing Atiyeh's Pennsylvania Venture Capital vehemently opposed a proposal before the Easton Zoning Hearing Board Monday night from Adams Outdoor Advertising of Bethlehem that will place two digital billboards in Hackett Park.

Adams Outdoor Advertising is seeking a special exception from zoners to construct the billboards.

The proposal, which is endorsed by the city's Planning Commission, would place two 14 foot by 48 foot billboards back-to-back in Hackett Park.

One billboard is proposed to face Route 22 eastbound and the other would face Route 22 westbound, according to Lois Arciszewski, vice president of Asset Management & New Development of Adams Outdoor Advertising.

Arciszewski said the billboards will feature still images for eight constant seconds and will be placed far enough away from residential homes to minimize impact.

However, attorney Michael Savona of Doylestown-based Eastburn & Gray, P.C. challenged Arciszewski and lawyer Victor Cavacini on nearly every issue introduced to the zoning hearing board.

Savona said Pennsylvania Venture Capital owns a residential home at 15 Kings Ave. in Palmer Township, located two blocks from where the billboards are planned.

"It's a distraction and nuisance to a residential property," Savona said. "It adversely affects a residential dwelling in a new townhouse development."

Arciszewski and Cavacini pointed out that current ordinances allow digital billboards within 300 feet of a residential structure. The proposed digital billboards are at least 590 feet away from the closest residence to the south and 1,845 feet away from the closest residence to the west.

Cavacini pointed out that Pennsylvania Venture Capital and resident Kelly Koskey were the only two opposing factions at the meeting. Cavacini said that Atiyeh's firm is a competing billboard company, which Savona denied.

Cavacini produced an advertisement in Sunday Morning Call urging residents to fight the placement of digital billboards on "Cemetery Curve," on Route 22.

City Administrator William Steckman said Easton told zoners that funds derived from the digital billboard deal will be used for capital improvements to Hackett Park.

Savona said he would need at least an hour of cross examination as an objecting attorney.

The board then decided to continue to hearing to Thursday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. in city council chambers.

In other business, zoners granted variances to convert office space and a recreation hall at Christ Lutheran Church into space for a daycare center and afterschool program. The church, located at 1100 Ferry Street, will operate the services from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Zoners also granted a variance allowing the Easton Redevelopment Authority to renovate an abandoned building at 521 N. 13 Street into four residential units. The building is part of the city's Silk Mill project.

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