PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Now adorned with a vinyl, bright yellow Sprint banner, there’s no denying the contentious relationship between the City of Pittsburgh and Lamar Advertising over the billboard on Mount Washington.

Both sides were in court Wednesday over the iconic Bayer sign that overlooks Pittsburgh.

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The battle has been going on for years now, but the hearing had nothing to do with the advertising or the future of what will be displayed on the iconic sign. Instead, it was all about the backside of the sign.

“This has been a billboard since the ‘30s,” said Lamar attorney Jonathan Kamin. “This is a legally permitted use for what your certificate of occupancy was issued in June of 1985.”

A criminal complaint was filed by city inspectors against Lamar in February of this year over rust on the back of the sign. The city saying they inspected it multiple times and repairs were not made.

In court, a judge gave Lamar 60 days to remove the rust on the Grandview Avenue side of the sign.

“We’re pleased that the city has allowed us to paint the back of the sign. We’re hopeful that the city will allow us to do more to the sign,” Kamin said.

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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto’s spokesperson Tim McNulty released this statement:

“Mayor Peduto — like most Pittsburghers — wants this iconic sign returned to its historic use, not something to be plastered with giant ads for a phone company. He wants long-term fixes to the sign, not just rust cleanup on its back. The city was in talks with Lamar over such long-term improvements but the company broke them off by putting up the Sprint ad without the city’s approval.”

But Lamar says the city is stalling.

Kamin says Lamar filed paperwork in July of 2014, along with writing a check for $72,000 to make multi-million dollar upgrades. Kamin says the check has never been cashed and that permit never issued.

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“We’ve been asking to be able to do work to that sign for over two years,” he said. “There’s never been anything other than a desire on our part to go ahead and clean that sign up and make it something that’s great for Pittsburgh.”

Heather Abraham