If they had known about that exemption, they would have submitted a proposal, said David Harte, a professional engineer who is vice president of land development and vice president of business development at Atiyeh’s Pennsylvania Venture Capital, Inc.
Harte said he’s never seen such a zoning exemption anywhere else in the Lehigh Valley, adding he has worked in practically every local municipality.
Harte said the city eventually plans to have Clinton Street Media erect at least 22 digital billboards. He testified all but one of those locations are in areas where digital billboard are not permitted under zoning, because they must be 300 feet from the nearest residential areas and 1,000 feet from the nearest existing digital billboard.
Thompson said Mayor Pawlowski signed exemptions that Clinton Street/Premiere Media does not have to meet zoning ordinance requirements when it erects its digital billboards around the city.
Harte said his company determined To comply with city zoning, Harte said his company determined it would need to seek a zoning use variance for most of those locations. He said such a variance is very hard to get and very expensive to seek --$10,000 to $20,000 with no guarantee of winning approval.
Monday’s testimony revealed the city will be getting 20 percent of gross advertising revenues from the first three digital billboards installed and eventually will get 25 percent. Other testimony by Harte revealed such leases can generate $50,000 to $100,000 a year in revenue.
Zoner Juan Camacho told Harte: “You haven’t suffered any economic harm or any type of harm you can crystallize.”
Said Savona: “The city has complete and utter discretion to hand out those exemptions -- and only to those parties they choose.”