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New Hope Zoning Hearing Board tells Bucks County Playhouse to remove unapproved sign facing Delaware River

new hope free press bucks county playhouseNew Hope’s Zoning Hearing Board (ZHB) not only voted down an application from Bucks County Playhouse for more and larger signage in a 3-2 decision Thursday night, but also directed Playhouse representatives to remove a sign painted without proper authorization on the building’s river-facing side in 2013.

As previously reported, New Hope borough officials last summer informed the Playhouse that they were able under the law to amend their pending application before the ZHB to include the unapproved north-facing sign. The Playhouse chose not to take advantage of that generous retroactive loophole at a ZHB meeting Sept. 4, inexplicably withdrawing their signage variances completely. The group had previously been unable to provide an explanation for the sign’s existence at a ZHB meeting Aug. 7.

In their appearance before the ZHB Thursday night, Bucks County Playhouse officials again failed to adequately explain why they should be allowed to keep the area’s only commercial signage viewable from the Delaware River, and also to justify adding additional signage beyond their existing marquee sign and another painted sign.

The north-facing Playhouse sign in question Thursday was not only painted without requisite borough approval, but also appears to violate the spirit of a 2004 Zoning Hearing Board decision denying similar advertising on the Delaware River to the owners of the former Club Zadar, and seeking to keep views of the Delaware River pristine and bucolic.


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Charlie Sahner

“Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy." - Einstein


  • Anne –

    You have the support of a lot of people in town. The comments on here and on the Facebook link to this article are overwhelmingly in your favor – you’ve done a great job, and the sign in question doesn’t seem to be a problem for anyone other than the ZHB. Please take heart in that you’ve got the support of the community regardless of the hassle the the ZHB is giving you, and pass it on to your whole staff and team. Good luck to you all.

  • I would like to share with your readers some information to correct inaccuracies in this article about the ZHB meeting last week. You referenced that last summer “Borough officials informed the Playhouse that they were able under the law to amend their pending application before the ZHB to include the unapproved north-facing sign.” The reason we pulled the sign request from the lighting request is because we felt that the lighting request would be denied with the sign request in it. We wanted the lighting to go through as quickly as possible and then we would address the sign issue separately. There was no “loophole” as was referenced. Additionally, signage that was denied for the previous owner of Zadar’s was lit with neon lights. Our request for the north facing side of the Playhouse did not include any neon or moving lights.

    We have not tried to deliberately subvert the zoning laws by our actions. We believed we had a signed permit which allowed us to move forward with all our requests. When questioned, we researched it and realized that the signage had been pulled from the original request. Time had passed and in the midst of a management change, it was painted. As soon as we were made aware, we went through the proper channels and applied. We will continue the process of sign approval by filing an appeal to the Zoning Hearing Boards decision. We feel this sign is unobtrusive and tastefully done, keeping in line with the historic nature of the other signs on the building. It’s quite surprising the ZHB would take a stand against something so minor when there are many opportunities in this town to improve the waterfront view.

    Anne LaFriniere,
    Trustee, Bucks County Playhouse Theater Inc.

  • The Playhouse is a vital part of downtown New Hope and for the Zoning Board to say that “The group had previously been unable to provide an explanation for the sign’s existence…” shows no regard for the fact that the Playhouse is a business. The signage is not a neon sign, is not intrusive to the view from the river, to the river or across the river. Let the sign stay or think of the town without the Playhouse.

  • That is about the least obtrusive sign in the entire town – there’s nothing about it that ruins the view from the river. If anything, the words “Bucks County Playhouse” painted in that style ADDS a sense of rural charm. The Playhouse is one of the nicest thing we have around here – one of the iconic sights in town, and one that brings in tourists, puts on great events both indoors and out, etc.

    Smart move – harass the Bucks County Playhouse until they get sick of it and close up shop. Maybe then the wholesale cigarette store, vape shops, and that store in four seasons mall that sells knives, air guns, and M-16 shaped cigarette lighters can take over the building and New Hope’s transformation will be complete.

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