At 4855 James Street, in addition to the adult video store and spaces for parking, there is a double-sided piggy-back billboard with a total of four sign faces. The owner, Risque Video,
applied for a variance to replace this nonconforming billboard structure to an LED digital billboard whose bright glaring messages will flash and change at 4 to 6 second intervals shining into the homes of several nearby neighbors and a church.
Due to prohibitions against rebuilding nonconforming billboards and putting signs with intermittent and flashing lights within 1,000 feet of residences (14-1604(8)b), the city refused the owner’s request for a permit.
The owner applied for a variance and appeared before the Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) on April 6.Despite the failure for the owner to show any evidence of hardship the board granted the variance.
Scenic Philadelphia staff found a petition opposing the sign in the file from neighbors living within 500 feet who were directly, adversely and substantially impacted. The Baptist Worship Center, located directly across the street from the billboards was also opposed. Scenic Philadelphia recruited a volunteer attorney, Judge Hall, to represent the church and the residents and he filed an appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.
Risque Video, filed a motion to quash on the grounds that the parties had no had standing to appeal the matter. Scenic Philadelphia, The Baptist Worship Center and the neighbors filed an answer to the motion to quash, and the court held a motion hearing on Wednesday, August 4th at City Hall, 10:00 in Room 426.
Judge Idee Fox ruled in favor of the church, neighbors, and SCRUB, agreeing with Attorney Hall that the zoning notice had been improperly posted.She remanded the case back to the ZBA for a full hearing.
Upcoming Bridesburg Billboard Case:Owners of the towering 110 foot billboard that stands adjacent to Risque’s billboard is also seeking a variance to rebuild the sign structure.The ZBA hearing on this case is August 18 at 2:00, 1515 Arch Street, 18th Floor.