Henon abandons controversial billboard bill

Legislation allowing a digital billboard near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge generated significant opposition.

Tacony-Palmyra Bridge TIMES FILE PHOTO

Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon is no longer pursuing a bill that would have allowed a digital billboard to be constructed near the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge and Lardner’s Point Park.

It’s good news for Lou Iatarola, president of the Historical Society of Tacony, and more than 380 others who signed an online petition to stop the installation of the proposed double-sided, 55-foot-high sign.

“When do you say enough is enough?” said Iatarola, a former president of the Tacony Civic Association. “We’ve been trying to turn the riverfront around for a long time in this neighborhood.”

Henon’s chief of staff, Courtney Voss, told the Times that state regulators notified the councilman that the billboard wouldn’t get a permit because it runs afoul of Pennsylvania law. 

The legislation, introduced Jan. 23, called for an area to be carved out for the billboard between Levick Street and the bridge from Elbridge Street to the west to the Kensington & Tacony Trail to the east.

Voss said she wasn’t sure exactly who requested permission to build the sign. It would have gone on a sliver of industrially-zoned land close to the bridge, she added. 

Signers of the petition opposing the bill left comments denouncing the prospective billboard as an eyesore and distraction for drivers and those trying to enjoy the park or trail, which was built along an old rail line.

Others worried about light pollution and the effect the digital sign would have on migrating birds. There were also accusations that Henon was ignoring the law by “spot zoning” a property.

Iatarola said such a proposal benefits the billboard company and potential advertisers, and no one else.

“Why should we be advocating for City Council to introduce and pass a bill that only benefits a select few?” he added. “It doesn’t make sense.”

Voss said the legislation will not be scheduled for a committee hearing. ••