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Lamar Advantage GP, Co., LLC v. City of Pittsburgh Zoning Bd.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court

January 20, 2021

For many years, Lamar Advantage GP Co. displayed an electronic advertisement on a billboard atop Mount Washington, which overlooks downtown Pittsburgh. In 2016, Lamar hung a vinyl sign over the electronic advertisement and the underlying structure. Believing that this action “enlarged” or “replaced” the sign, the City of Pittsburgh cited Lamar for breaching a provision of the City’s Zoning Code barring a nonconforming sign from enlarging, adding to, or replacing another nonconforming sign. Pittsburgh’s Zoning Board of Adjustment upheld the citation, agreeing with the City that Lamar’s actions enlarged or replaced the sign. On appeal, the Court of Common Pleas reversed the Board. The Commonwealth Court affirmed the lower court. Both courts held that the Board’s conclusion was unsupported by the record. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted allowance of appeal and affirmed. In Lamar Advantage GP, Co., LLC v. City of Pittsburgh Zoning Bd., the sole issue was whether, under Lamar Advertising Co. v. Zoning Hearing Bd. of Monroeville, 939 A.2d 994 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2007), a static vinyl advertising sign could replace an electronic advertising sign. The Court held that Lamar’s display of the vinyl sign did not require structural alterations to the billboard, and the static vinyl sign did not replace or enlarge the sign structure. Because Lamar’s ratcheting of the vinyl static sign over the existing electronic sign involved no structural alterations, Lamar v. Monroeville was not controlling.

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