Amid a reshuffling of city boards and commissions this week, the Ravenstahl administration dismissed the author of a Zoning Board opinion that blocked a controversial electronic billboard proposed for the city's Grant Street Transportation Center with the support of the administration.
Alice Mitinger, a lawyer with expertise in zoning issues who had been appointed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment by the late Mayor Bob O'Connor... (P-G, James O'Toole)
David Toal, the ZBA member who had removed himself from the Lamar proceedings in order to avoid a conflict of interest, has also been replaced.
In light of the fact that the zoning board's decision against Lamar was upheld in the Court of Common Pleas this week, this may be a good time to ask Mayor Ravenstahl himself whether it is now appropriate for the half-constructed digital billboard on the public building to begin coming down -- and if not, at what point would that become appropriate.
No, I do not know whether Lamar Advertising simply may reapply for the same zoning variances and special exceptions it sought previously through this newly constituted panel.
In terms of precedent, I know UPMC initially had its application for beautiful signage atop the USX Tower formally rejected by the Planning Commission -- yet successfully reapplied for it the following week, after He Who Must Not Be Named delivered a strident presentation in its favor. However, that instance of reapplication for an identical project may in fact have been less-than-perfectly permissible.
I can practically see the attorneys warming up in the bullpen.
Here is Judge James' minimalist 5-page opinion. Click to enlarge:
Below is the Zoning Board decision now affirmed by the ruling above. It is comprised of Alice Mitinger's decisive 17-page rejection preceded by Wrenna Watson's 2-page dissent in favor of an approval.
Contrast Watson's two references to "the totality of the circumstances" on document pages 1 and 2 with Mitinger's item #10 under Conclusions of Law and Decision on page 14. (Item #9 on the same page is also worth a gander.)
APROPOS: "Autocracy Accusations", KDKA; "Boogeyman Politics", WPXI
*-CHIMING IN: Madison knows Mitinger and is still ticked; Infinonymous analyzes some of the replacements.
**-UPDATE: Lamar is weighing its options. Isn't everybody? (P-G, James O'Toole)
***-ADDITIONALLY: Dok Harris gets his statement on. (P-G Early Returns)