UPMC seeking change in McCandless zoning code to allow banners, temporary signs at Passavant Hospital

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Mar. 12—McCandless council is considering a request from UPMC Passavant Hospital that the town amend its sign ordinance to allow informational banners to be placed on light poles in its parking lot and other temporary signs on its campus.

If council approves such a request, the amended ordinance would cover any business in the town to use the banners and signs so long as they meet the criteria outlined in the law.

"We're proposing that three different banner type signs be added to the McCandless code that very simply serve three different functions," said Bill Kolano of Kolano Design, which is assisting UPMC with its request to change the zoning code.

The main type of sign the hospital wants to erect are banners that would be placed on light poles in the parking lot "to allow messaging to occur about different things going on in the hospital," Kolano said. "They would be up for a short duration of time."

The banners would be made of cloth or vinyl with no more than two signs on a pole. They would also be spaced 100 feet apart "to minimize the number (of banners) in the parking lot," he said adding that the banners would be a maximum of 12 square feet and no more than 2-feet wide.

The second type of banner would be mounted on a building several inches above the exterior surface. Those also would be made of fabric or vinyl that can be stretched taut on a frame. They would be 80 square feet or smaller, which is the size permitted in the City of Pittsburgh, Kolano said. They would be used for marketing and to announce special events or other activities at the hospital.

A so-called "feather banner" which is mounted on a pole in the ground also would be allowed if council approves the request. Those banners would be a maximum of 12 square feet and no taller than 12 feet. They, too, would be spaced 100 feet apart.

"These are more like a quick message (sign) that would be up for a few days and then taken down," Kolano said.

While temporary wall-mounted signs can now be used if a company or organization obtains a permit, the pole-mounted and feather-style banners are specifically prohibited in McCandless' zoning code, said RJ Susko, the town's director of planning.

Councilwoman Shelly Sponholz said while she was "not necessarily opposed to the concept," she was concerned that it might set a precedent if approved. She also questioned whether the town should be paying the cost of legal fees.

"I'm not in favor of spending taxpayer's money to prepare a special ordinance," she said.

Susko said if council decides to move forward with the proposal to change the code, UPMC would be required to put money in an escrow account for the legal fees. She noted that while UPMC would benefit from the change, those same benefits would be available to any business that wants to put up banners so long as they conform to the revised ordinance.

UPMC's project manager, Michelle Weltner, told council that while there are three different styles of banners outlined in the request "the interest for UPMC is for the light pole banners."

"The light pole (banners) are the ones we really want so we can let the community know what they have available in their backyard," she said.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, tlarussa@triblive.com or via Twitter .