The controversial electronic billboard at the Grant Street Transportation Center in downtown Pittsburgh will come down by September 1.
Scenic Pittsburgh, a non-profit dedicated to removing visual blight, announced it has negotiated an agreement with the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, the City of Pittsburgh and sign owner Lamar Advertising to remove the 19' by 58' electronic billboard at 55 11th Street.
In 2007, a city zoning administrator issued a permit without requiring Lamar to seek two required variances. But in 2008, Councilmen Ricky Burgess, Patrick Dowd, Bruce Kraus, Bill Peduto and Doug Shields objected to the project. The city revoked the permit and Lamar then sought to get the variances. But the Zoning Board of Adjustment rejected the variance request, and Allegheny County and Commonwealth Courts upheld that decision.
Scenic Pittsburgh Executive Director Mike Dawida says the sign should have then been torn down immediately and when it wasn't, his organization filed suit in March which led to today's announcement.....
"We are pleased about the agreement, as this partially completed sign hanging at a prominent downtown intersection has remained an eyesore for more than three years."
Dawida says Lamar will pay for the removal of the sign..."Ironically, the only thing keeping it from being torn down quickly is the time it will take to get the proper permits to bring it down. That's ironic because they never got the permits to put it up."
Dawida added that more communities are turning away from the electronic billboards including six cities in Texas and St. Louis...
"Electronic billboards are extremely intrusive and ugly and energy hogs and distracting. What you're seeing rather than more cities building them, cities are saying we don't want them or we only want them in certain places."
He says Scenic Pittsburgh is moving forward to remove other illegal billboards, but because of state law, most billboards in Pittsburgh enjoy grandfathered legal status. "Hundreds of non-conforming billboards would be illegal otherwise."
The organization is working with Pittsburgh Council on developing a more stringent billboard policy and Dawida expects passage by late summer.