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Palmer Township residents still furious over lighted billboard

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: May 06 2013 10:23:55 PM CDT
Updated On: May 07 2013 08:42:03 AM CDT
PALMER TWP., Pa. -

While Palmer Township and developer Abe Atiyeh ended their differences over an electronic billboard on Route 22 last month, five township residents who live by the sign certainly have not.

Saying that the billboard lights are “brighter than before,” the five residents alleged that the billboard lights are not in compliance with the standards of which the developer agreed during Monday night's board of supervisors meeting.

“When this meeting opened we said the pledge (of allegiance) and the phrase ‘with justice for all’ I think the residents did not receive that justice when this ordinance was passed,” said Charles Diefenderfer, who lives near the billboard and said he is impacted by the light.

“I think we were ignored. I think everything was done to accommodate a developer who other municipalities stand up to…We still have a billboard that is still lit, still lights up the bedrooms, still lights the back of our house.”

Diefenderfer said that trusting Atiyeh to readjust the billboard to lower the lights is not sufficient.

“I don’t know what you can do, but I think township owes that area something to give them piece of mind and peaceful enjoyment of their properties because right now that doesn’t exist,” he said.

Diefenderfer was joined by some of his neighbors who also voiced their displeasure.

“I just want to make you all aware that I have been very disappointed in the process,” said resident Jim Duffy of the township’s handling of the billboard situation.

“I don’t feel I can trust this township. I do not believe this township is operating in the best interest of the neighborhood,” added Buck Johnson, another homeowner who lives near the electronic billboard and commented that he and his wife, Lisa, are impacted by the light.

“The township is not making a penny off of this billboard,” said President David Colver of the sign.

Supervisors asked township manager Chris Christman to look into the matter through the township’s zoning department to make sure the billboard is in compliance with the regulations. Colver added that supervisors will have an update on the matter at next week’s meeting.

In other news Monday night, the township’s new 96-gallon waste and recycling carts are being dispensed to the township’s 21,000 plus residents and the process has been going well, according to township officials and representatives of Waste Management, who attended the meeting.

“The response was good,” said Palmer Township Recycling Coordinator Cindy Oatis.

In other business, the township created the Palmer Township Department of Parks and Recreation and named Dan McKinney the new director.

McKinney is the director of the Charles Chrin Community Center with the township. In his new position he will receive a salary increase of $6,600, bringing his total annual salary to $73,456.