EASTON, Pa. - Controversial developer Abraham Atiyeh opposes a competitor's plan to erect a digital billboard in an Easton park, calling it a bad deal that was made behind the scenes.
He is threatening to sue Easton if the billboard is approved.
Atiyeh told 69 News the proposed location is inappropriate because billboards are not permitted in an area of the city zoned for parks.
Atiyeh also claimed the city will be receiving 25 percent of gross sales from advertising on the billboard, as part of an agreement with Adams Outdoor Advertising.
Atiyeh said Adams was awarded the billboard without a bid. He suspects the city awarded the billboard to Adams because Adams had sued Easton for not allowing a previously requested billboard in another location.
The billboard already has been approved by the planning commission in Hackett Park, which is just north of Route 22 in the city.
There actually will be two billboards, erected back-to-back in the park to face both directions of Route 22 traffic.
Easton Mayor Sal Panto said the city was not required to seek bids for billboards in that location. The mayor explained another company simply was more aggressive than Atiyeh in getting the contract.
Panto said Adams filed a lawsuit against the city several years ago, because Easton had no approved zoning allowing billboards.
The mayor said Adams initially wanted to put a billboard on top of Frank & Dots Beer Depot at 102 Bushkill St., and promised to drop the lawsuit if it could do that.
The city responded by creating two zoning areas where billboards could go, but the location on top of Frank & Dots was not one of them.
The mayor said Adams also was interested in Hackett Park, and told the city it would not want to use the Frank & Dots if it got that approval for the park location.
Panto said Atiyeh also applied for permission to put a billboard on top of Frank & Dots and also was turned down.
Adams' Hackett Park billboard proposal went to the zoning hearing board. Panto said Atiyeh and his lawyers showed up at lat week's zoning board meeting, which went late into the night. The zoners decided to continue the issue until their Nov. 7 meeting.
Panto said Atiyeh "is not stopped from putting a billboard up in an approved zone."
Atiyeh has purchased a townhouse only 100 feet from the proposed digital signs. He says that purchase was made by his company, and is "not relative" to his fight against the billboard.
Allentown, PA 18102
- Berks Tim Lind / 69 News