Business Government

Council Split on Rt. 378 Digital Billboard Proposal Variance Request

Est. Read Time: 3 mins

Editor’s Note: An earlier published version of this story incorrectly identified the location of the billboard under discussion. We apologize for any inconvenience the error may have caused.

An outdoor advertising business owner’s rationale for requesting a variance in order to erect a digital billboard along Route 378 that would be taller than the traditional billboard it is intended to replace divided Lower Saucon Township Council Wednesday night.

Bill Bakos, owner of Tri-Outdoor Inc., told council a taller billboard will help ensure that tractor-trailers don’t hit it.

Rt 378 Billboard

A billboard along Route 378 South in Lower Saucon Township was the subject of a discussion by township council on Dec. 3, 2014.

The new billboard would replace a sign that faces Route 378 North near Dr. Feelgoode’s.

“All I want to do is clear a tractor-trailer. From a safety standpoint, it’s not only for the billboard,” Bakos said. “I just want to get a tractor trailer at 13’6″ not to hit the thing, and kids not to climb on it.”

Bakos appeared surprised–and grateful–when another attendee at the meeting leaped to his defense and told council they should be supporting a local businessman who’s trying to earn a living.

“I think it’s a good idea. If we can make a sign higher than 13’6”, let’s do it,” said township resident Mike Kiefer, who told council he owns several trucks and has had issues with them hitting tree branches overhanging local roads.

“Why fight it? It doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

Resident Matt McClarin agreed, and pointed out that there were no neighbors at the meeting to voice opposition to the billboard plan.

“What are we opposing—a businessman?” he asked council.

The proposed billboard would be 10 feet high and sit atop a 14-foot-tall frame, so it would have a total height of 24 feet.

Council president Ron Horiszny said the township’s ordinance restricts the height of these types of roadside billboards to 18 feet, and told the men it’s council’s job to protect that ordinance unless there is a good reason not to.

He said that in this instance there did not seem to him to be a reason not to follow the ordinance.

Council vice president Tom Maxfield said he was skeptical of the argument that the billboard needs to be taller to protect truck drivers, and questioned why Bakos hadn’t considered erecting a fence around the billboard.

“I’m just not buying this,” he said of Bakos’s argument. “There are other ways for us to do this without going through a variance.”

When Maxfield introduced a motion to oppose the variance request, it failed because of a tied vote, which means council took no official action.

Maxfield and Horiszny voted for the motion, while councilman Dave Willard and councilwoman Priscilla deLeon voted against it.

As he exited the meeting, Bakos said to Kiefer, “I don’t know who you are, but thank you.”

The next township Zoning Hearing Board meeting is scheduled for Monday, Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. at Lower Saucon Town Hall, 3700 Old Philadelphia Pike, Bethlehem.


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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