Township of Ephrata. changes rules for electronic signs and short-term rentals | Community News

When: Ephrata Township Supervisors Meeting, April 5.

What happened: Township supervisors, after holding a public hearing, unanimously passed a zoning amendment regulating variable email signs that motorists see along freeways. The new text amendment changes the message interval rate from 15 minutes to 1 minute. The new law also regulates daytime brightness and the number of authorized signs.

why is it important: Since January, township officials have been back and forth with retailer Good’s Inc. over a request to change the zoning ordinance to allow two variable-message electronic signs, in a bid to agree on a rate message interval. Township Manager Steve Sawyer said the Lancaster County Planning Commission recommended making Ephrata Township “more compliant” with regulations from neighboring municipalities. He said the township planning commission “didn’t see a problem” and recommended changing the ordinance. “We worked on this proposed text amendment for several months before council believed it was in a format that could be sent to planning commissions for their consideration,” Sawyer said.

Background: When Good’s first proposed adding two electronic signs to the site of a future department store and supermarket at the intersection of State Street (Route 272) and Rothsville Road, township supervisors balked at doing change the message interval rate from 15 minutes to 1 minute, citing safety concerns for motorists. Previously, the Township of Ephrata allowed only one sign per property.

Other business: Supervisors held a separate public hearing before unanimously approving zoning changes to regulate short-term lodging rentals and small wireless installations.

Short term rental: Sawyer explained that the township noticed an error in the short-term rental ordinance passed two years ago that required a new certificate of occupancy – changing the use classification from residential to commercial. The amendment creates two types of short-term rentals. Short-term rentals in operation for less than 120 days in a calendar year will retain their classification as single-family homes and seek temporary short-term rental approval from the Township Zoning Hearing Board. An owner who uses it as a short-term rental for more than 120 days in a single year must be subject to the same regulations as a commercial hotel or motel.

wireless infrastructure: A small wireless installation ordinance is needed to comply with a new state law allowing equipment to be deployed along streets to support 5G wireless internet and cell phone service.

And after: Council will meet at 7 a.m. on April 19 at the Township of Ephrata Municipal Building, 265 Akron Road, Ephrata.

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