by Marilyn Skolnick
Monroeville is one of the few municipalities that still has an extended
section of Interstate Route 376 (Parkway East) that is free of billboards.
The section runs from Penn Hills to exit 6 of the Turnpike. International
Outdoor Advertising, in the business of constructing billboards, noticed
this vacant stretch and approached the Monroeville Planning Commission
with a new addition to the existing zoning ordinance for billboards,
written to make it possible for them to line the interstate with the
largest billboards possible. The Monroeville residents attending the
Planning Commission and the Zoning Hearing Board politely objected to the
proposal. Both bodies rejected Outdoor’s proposed change. When the
proposal came to Monroeville Council, it was rejected also.
Because the municipal solicitor ruled it a zoning change, the company can
return as often as they wish, and they do return often. As a result of the
first refusal, they have returned to council every month, only to ask for
a tabling action at the last minute.
Sierra Club has over 50 members in Monroeville. The Sierra Club nationally
has had a position against billboards beginning in 1966, the year after
the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was enacted. We, along with other
concerned residents, have appeared at each council meeting only to find
that the issue was tabled and council honored the request. We shall return
every time Outdoor returns.