Hearings on two sign-related ordinances delayed, but Old City hotel discussion is before rules Monday

Hearings originally set for Monday on two proposed ordinances that would change bill board rules in two parts of the city have been postponed, but Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Rules will still hear testimony on a third signange-related proposal at its 10 am meeting in Council chambers.

The hearing that’s still happening is on an ordinance proposed by First District Councilman Frank DiCicco which would allow developers to build a hotel at 401 Race Street near the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Developer Arc Properties and Old City Civic have reached agreement on most aspects of the proposal, but controversy remains about a large electronic sign the developers want to put on one side of the hotel and plans for ground floor entertainment. The developers say the sign will be beautiful and is not a billboard. They also say that while live music is a possibility, all sound will be contained within the building and the dance floor is small, so there is no nightclub. Residents, who packed a community meeting last week, disagree on both counts.

The postponed hearings are on ordinances also introduced by DiCicco. One would allow for larger and brighter billboards on part of East Market Street. The other would allow billboard companies whose signs are being condemned as part of the I-95 improvement project to rebuild them without zoning oversight, provided they stay within a certain distance of the new highway and the sign’s original location. The Philadelphia City Planning Commission has not yet made recommendations on either of these bills, instead asking for more time to study the impact each would have. Read more on these proposed ordinances here.

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