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Article published October 16, 2012
Business owner protests building billboards in city
A business owner and some Institute Hill residents are fighting the erection of a pair of billboards on property on East Jefferson Street, alleging that the signs violates city ordinances. This morning about a dozen protesters, all members of the Dahl family or associated with the family’s business, Interstate Builders at 154 Kittanning St., picketed on the vacant lot across the street from the Institute Hill playground. Builders from Lamar Advertising were there as well, preparing to drill holes for the billboards, but they were obstructed by vehicles and picketers. Several city police were there to keep order. City officials say Lamar has the permits to build the two billboards, while picketers contend the city granted easements to Lamar to skirt around ordinances which would prevent the signs from being built. The Dahls claim the billboards violate buffer zone issues and that only one, not two, billboards are allowed on the property. Mercedes Dahl said, “We’ve had 250 residents sign a petition fighting these billboards. We’re also concerned about what will be on those signs.” Mayor Maggie Stock released a statement saying, “The property owner has agreed for at least four years for a billboard on that property. The tenants (who organized the protest) contend that the city ordinance for set backs has not been followed. “The billboards meet the established set back line determined at least 10 years ago. Further, property that fronts two streets, in this case East Jefferson and Kittanning Streets, is allowed two signs. In this instance both signs have been permitted for the East Jefferson Street site. “Additionally, there have been no formal complaints filed by any resident or business owner bordering the property regarding any hardship or nuisance created by that sign.”