Last month, a federal court held that a billboard company’s motion to revise the court’s earlier denial of summary judgment to a Pennsylvania township’s sign regulations was not ripe.
The billboard company, Nittany Outdoor Advertising, LLC, desired to post messages written by a non-profit organization, Stephanas Ministries, on billboards in College Township, Pennsylvania. The township denied the request. The billboard company filed suit in federal district court, challenging the township’s sign ordinance on First Amendment grounds, namely that the restrictions on sign area, height, and setback disfavored billboards and certain noncommercial messages. During the pendency of the lawsuit, the township amended its sign regulations. In 2014, the court granted in part and denied in part motions by the plaintiff for summary judgment and permanent injuctive relief. The court specifically found that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring claims against the pre-amendment sign ordinance and denied summary judgment with respect to the substantive challenge to the post-amendment ordinance. The court did find, however, that the township’s permit requirement and variance procedures were unconstitutional prior restraints on speech.
The plaintiffs contended that the court’s 2014 decision was invalidated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Reed v. Town of Gilbert and filed a Motion to Revise the court’s earlier decision. Since the local court rules required filing of a motion for reconsideration within 14 days after the order concerned, the court denied the Motion to Revise. It remains to be seen whether the plaintiffs will file a new action challenging the township’s sign code.