A new digital billboard off of routes 22 and 33 in Palmer Township has received a less than warm welcome from some residents of the area.
Some Hay Street dwellers attended the Palmer Township board of supervisors meeting on Monday night to express their concerns and distresses about the billboard, which just started displaying its digital advertisements last week.
The consistent flashing glare of the billboard was the most resounding issue of the evening. Many of the Hay Street neighbors said the changing lights shine into their bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, bathrooms and patios.
One resident compared the homes to “Christmas trees” transformed by the glow of the billboard. The digital billboard flashes or changes screens eight times at most per minute, according to David Colver, chairman of the Palmer Township board of supervisors.
The depreciating value of the homes in this neighborhood was another major issue brought forth at the supervisors meeting. Residents were also raised concerns about the safety of the sign and the possibility that it could lead to more accidents near their neighborhood if it distracts drivers.
Some of the people who addressed the board brought along research they had gathered about the increased safety hazards of digital billboards, property depreciation and the health hazards of severe, long-term light exposure. One Hay Street resident, Charles Diefenderfer, spoke about what he learned from the township’s records about the zoning regulations and approvals for the billboard.
“I believe that if the Palmer Township had done proper notification to all the residents, this problem wouldn’t be occurring,” said Diefenderfer. “I think that the residents have enough knowledge that you don’t put a digital sign visible 24 hours a day adjoining a residential property. I think based on some of the things I saw in the zoning, I think the decision was incorrect. I think that the township is going to look at the zoning and make sure that they had the regulations correct and whatever action they take will decide what happens next.”
The supervisors explained that, as of right now, the billboard had perfect legal standing to be there and that all of the applicable codes and procedures had been followed. An engineer will be checking the lighting of the new billboard as part of standard procedure. The board agreed, however, to look into the complaints and concerns expressed at Monday night’s meeting.