Judge Fines Ross Twp. Homeowners For Old Christmas Lights
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ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — It wasn’t that many years ago when the Ross Township home owned by Bob Ansell brought Christmas magic — and contributions to local charities — for its display of Christmas lights.
“Raised a lot of money for Salvation Army and Children’s Hospital — and to see it go this way — this is a township that bullies people,” Ansell told KDKA’s Jon Delano on Wednesday.
But claiming that his neighbors and local officials objected to his lights and the traffic, Bill Ansell — who lives in his brother’s home — has ceased the displays, leaving the property strewn with decapitated choir boys, a urinating Santa, and plenty of what the neighbors call junk.
“You have rusty lawn chairs on your property, a urinating Santa, a Virgin Mary with a knife through its head, those are the types of things we’re talking about — and slanderous remarks about the ladies who live across the street,” noted Kenneth Fryncko, an attorney for some of the neighbors.
In early May, a district magistrate ordered that the offensive signs be removed, along with the now unused out-of-season display that violated Ross Township ordinances.
The Ansells took down the signs but not the display.
After a 30-minute hearing in Judge Hugh McGough’s courtroom, the judge ruled that while there had been some compliance with his original order, there had not been enough, so he fined the Ansell brothers $1,250.
“The township would have preferred complete compliance, but we’re happy with what we got today,” said township assistant solicitor Ann Sweeney.
But the property will remain as it is — with maybe more.
Delano: “Are you going to take anything away or down?”
Bill Ansell: “No, I’m going to continue putting it up. Get ready for light up night.”
The Ansell brothers will appeal this fine, saying they have a First Amendment constitutional right.
“Freedom of expression. You can put whatever kind of display up, right?” noted Bill Ansell.
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