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From One Problem, Two Laws Set For Hearing

Lower Pottsgrove commissioners (above) during Thursday night’s meeting

SANATOGA PA – What was suggested months ago as a work-around for a thorny problem being faced by the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners has now spawned two separate ordinances, on signage and “zoning district classifications” respectively, for which the board agreed Thursday (Oct. 22, 2015) it would hold public hearings Dec. 17.

The problem originated with signage. The township has for years wanted to erect an electronic message display sign outside its Buchert Road municipal building, but the site itself is located within a zoning district where such signs are not allowed. The work-around, Solicitor Robert Brant proposed during a board session earlier this year, was to exempt township properties from its own zoning restrictions.

Commissioners, though, expressed interest in a complete overhaul of the signage law. More and more businesses, they said, wanted to install the modern signs in a variety of sizes and shapes. They wanted to include color, photos, drawings and animation too. Board members had concerns about regulating all of that, while keeping signs as unobtrusive to neighboring properties as possible.

So the township staff, the Lower Pottsgrove Planning Commission, and Montgomery County planners have worked to adapt a county model sign ordinance for the board’s approval. It’s finally tweaked and completed. Commissioners say they’re ready, following the December hearing, to repeal the existing sign law and replace it with the new one.

But neither they or Brant, apparently, forgot that suggested work-around. It surfaced Thursday night, also for a proposed and different hearing.

The recommended amendment to zoning district classifications, the board was told, would affect all acreage owned by the township anywhere within its borders. It provides that Lower Pottsgrove-owned land, in any district, cannot be held to the same zoning standards set by the township for all other individually or corporate-owned parcels.

It also would not be regulated by, or need to face hearings before, the township Zoning Hearing Board, commissioners heard.

No township official could immediately say how many acres of land Lower Pottsgrove owns, which likely includes but may not be limited to its buildings, parks and recreation lands, undeveloped and dedicated open space, sewage treatment facilities, and roads.

Board members offered no comment on the measure. Their votes for both hearings passed unanimously.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Oct. 22 meeting):

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