Nutter vetoes controversial wall wrap bill

Mayor Michael Nutter has vetoed a controversial zoning bill that allowed large wall wrap advertising on buildings between Spring Garden, Willow, 6th and 7th streets.

The bill, recently approved by city council and introduced by outgoing First District Councilman Frank DiCicco, would have allowed such a sign to be hung on The Electric Factory.

DiCicco did not call for a vote to override the veto. After the council session, he said the vote would have been close, and he also did not want to pressure any council colleagues who don’t like the idea to go along because it was his last council session. “I didn’t feel it was appropriate,” he said.

DiCicco also referred to an effort begun by District Five Councilman Darrell Clarke, who is calling for a “comprehensive plan for the placement of advertising on municipal property” as a way to raise revenue for the city, according to legislation he discussed with council in pre-session caucus.

Clarke’s proposal would allow non-accessory signs on municipal property, but only under guidelines established by the city planning commission. The regulations would have to consider the “character of the surrounding area, including but not limited to its physical, aesthetic, environmental, cultural and historical characteristics.”

Clarke introduced the legislation as a sort of place holder. All bills that have not been acted on as of today will need to be reintroduced in the new session.

In a Dec. 15 letter to Council about his veto, Nutter also talked about a city-wide policy. He said he had to say no because, “In my view, permissions given for stand-alone advertising signs, particularly very large signs, should be taken up on a City-wide, and not a property-by-property, basis.”

Nutter said the bill was much different than other advertising legislation also sponsored by DiCicco authorizing large scale ads on Market East, “where specific commitments regarding development of the properties where signs will be located are a condition of receipt of permission to display large signs.”

Nutter also referred to an opinion by the city solicitor that said the bill could jeapordize federal highway funding.

The bill was a subject of an email campaign by opponents, organized in part by SCRUB, an anti-urban blight organization.

Previous coverage

Contact the reporter at kgates@planphilly.com

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