Council OKs Phoenixville Area High School digital sign with provisions

PHOENIXVILLE — The digital sign planned for Phoenixville Area High School may be a little less noticeable than originally planned.

After borough council planned a legal appeal of the sign’s approval by the zoning hearing board, the proposed sign was approved with conditions that will move it back from the corner where it was initially slated to go.

Councilman Shai Perednik made a motion at last week’s council meeting “to accept the school board’s proposed electronic sign with the condition that it is pushed back 180 feet off City Line Avenue closer to the school building and will be angled in a way that it will not visible from public roads and will comply with all existing signage regulations.”

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“It’s going to wind up close to the front of the building,” said Phoenixville Area School district Executive Director of Operations Stan Johnson.

Originally, the district planned to place the sign at the intersection of Gay Street and City Line Avenue.

The conditional approval passed 6-2 with council members Jeremy Dalton and Dana Dugan against it. It was the only vote after an executive session that was approximately an hour long.

In January, after another executive session, council voted to appeal the zoning hearing board’s approval of the sign. Councilman Christopher Bauers was the only one to vote against it then.

Perednik said it is council’s feeling that the residents of the borough don’t want electronic signs and that council is trying to work against setting precedents since most developers ask for them.

He said the original placing for the sign, on the corner of Gay Street and City Line Avenue, would have thrown light onto neighbors’ properties, they believed, and that the sign didn’t fit the spirit of the town’s zoning ordinances.

“The mayor (Mike Speck) and I met with the school superintendent (Alan Fegley) a few weeks ago to see if we could find a solution that would work for both sides,” Borough Manager Jean Krack told 21st Century Media Tuesday. “Based on that meeting we worked up an agreement as necessary to withdraw the appeal process and avoid litigation, which neither side wanted. The Borough Council last week agreed to the withdraw agreement. We are now waiting for the School Board to meet and hopefully accept them as well.”

Johnson said the “compromise agreement the councilmen voted on included that (180 feet) distance and we were to try to angle it so it would not be obtrusive to public roads.”

Perednik told 21st Century Media the school district had come forward with those terms.

“(Drivers) would be able to see it but (it would) not jump right into their view...The concession here is it won’t be as visible as we wanted it to be,” said Johnson. “But as people know it’s there, people will be able to look for it and say, ‘Hey, that’s going on.’”

“It’s a happy medium for everybody,” Perednik said.

On the digital component of the 27 feet by 24 feet sign, events like plays, sporting events, parent-teacher conferences and other high school goings-on will be announced.

An update on the sign is scheduled to be given at Thursday’s school board meeting by Fegley.

Krack said since their is no agreement signed by both sides yet on the sign, he couldn’t give out the exact details yet.

Zoning codes in Phoenixville provide electronic signs for any “municipal use” but others can be permitted by conditional use.

In November, council voted 6-1 against the sign before it went to the zoning hearing board for a variance, which was approved.

Follow Frank Otto on Twitter @fottojourno.