Lansdale Catholic wants to erect a digital message sign at Seventh Street and Lansdale Avenue — and borough council unanimously supports their request.
Prompted by a motion from Councilman Jack Hansen, council Wednesday night voted 8-0 to support the approval of a variance application by Lansdale Catholic to the Lansdale Borough Zoning hearing Board. President Matt West was absent from the meeting, and the vote was seconded by Dan Dunigan.
That support may have made Lansdale Catholic's process simpler.
If approved, Lansdale will be given access to the sign to post emergency notices to the public.
"If they do, it will not only protect the residents of the borough, but also protect the people that travel through the borough, and also protect the first responders who happen to be out there in a bad situation," Hansen said.
However, according to borough code, electronic variable message signs are prohibited in Lansdale.
Thus far, through legal firm Dischell, Bartle and Dooley in Lansdale, Lansdale Catholic has issued two applications to the zoning hearing board.
The first one is for the variance, which challenges the word "variable" because, according to The Reporter story by Dan Sokil, the text would hcnage every week or month, not every second or minute.
A second application looks for interpretation of the ordinance, due to what the attorney claims is an ordinance missing a specific word.
"There's been a lot of discussion in the borough with the different (committees) with an application for a variable message sign at Lansdale Catholic. In that vein," said Hansen, "I move that borough council support Lansdale Catholic High School's application ... seeking a variance ... to permit the school to erect an LED sign, and to oppose the school's application seeking an interpretation of the borough's ordinances."
By this vote, council is only concerned about the variance, and not the interpretation.
Attorney Frank Bartle, who was present at the meeting, said Lansdale Catholic is only interesrted in having the sign approved by variance.
"In the event that there is no other party that enters opposition, we will withdraw the application with respect to interpretation," Bartle said.
Bartle said the application was submitted for the best legal arugment, in case a third party did appear and an appeal had to be taken to the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas.
Bartle did not anticipate any opposition.
The sign will stand about 10 feet high. The face of the sign is about 40 square feet each side, with the digital display comprising about 16 square feet on each side.
The zoning hearing was scheduled for Sept. 18, but it was cancelled. The next zoning hearing board meetng is October 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Lansdale Borough Hall.