Billboards survive Philly neighborhood opposition — for now

Groups opposed to billboards successfully beat back plans to put a 10,000-square-foot electronic sign near the Ben Franklin Bridge.

Now, new signs have popped up just down the street.

About a block away from the Electric Factory, where the controversial multistory digital sign project had been proposed, two new digital signs have appeared at 400 N. Fifth St. 

The signs replace traditional billboards, but attorney Stephanie Kindt of the group Scenic Philadelphia said the permit for their placement was issued by the Department of Licenses and Inspections over the counter — with no hearing or zoning variance necessary.

“There was no evidence that they even posted the permit,” she said. “There was a building permit posted on the one back parking lot wall and it was never seen.”

Kindt contends the digital signs do not conform to federal rules that regulate signs near federally funded roadways. She says Scenic Philadelphia is weighing its options.

Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed a bill allowing the 10,000-square-foot sign to make sure federal highway money would not be put at risk.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.