Digital billboards are scattered on highways across the Poconos, especially along Route 611, but you won't find any in Stroudsburg. That may be about to change.
A Monroe County judge has ruled the borough's ban on digital signs is unconstitutional, giving the green light to Adams Outdoor Advertising to build a digital billboard along Interstate 80 off Dreher Avenue in the parking lot of JPC Fabrication, a welding and fabrication business. The borough’s solicitor, Joseph P. McDonald, is appealing Judge Arthur Zulick’s ruling.
In rejecting the borough’s digital billboard ban, Zulick noted they are already up and running in five other municipalities: Delaware Water Gap, Hamilton Township, Pocono Township, Chestnuthill Township, and Tobyhanna Township.
Adams wants to build a digital billboard 60 feet high with 672 square feet of advertising space next to I-80 at 1121 Dreher Avenue. Adams’ journey through the legal system started in 2017 when it applied for a zoning permit for a sign using "digital technology.” A borough zoning officer denied the permit application on Dec. 29, 2017, and Adams appealed to the borough's zoning hearing board on Feb. 1, 2018.
Adams won some points, getting the board to agree that Adams should be granted a variance allowing it to exceed the borough's maximum sign height requirement. But more importantly it lost its digital sign argument, meaning the proposed sign would not be permitted. That sent Adams to Monroe County Court, where the case wound up before Zulick.
Zulick, in a 17-page opinion and order, reversed the decision by the borough's zoning hearing board. He said the board erred and did not have sufficient evidence to determine if the borough’s ban on digital billboards was based on a valid constitutional reason. The borough has cited aesthetic and public safety reasons for the ban, Zulick noted.
Zulick said the borough did not present evidence that Adams’ digital sign would be “less aesthetically pleasing...less safe” or “worse" than signs that are static, flashing or intermittent.