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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The City of Pittsburgh has lost the latest battle over the old Bayer sign on Mount Washington, but the war may not be over.

The war over the sign has raged now for four years, but this week, Lamar Advertising won a major battle over the city when a judge ruled this latest version could stay.

“We have a legal right to exist and a legal right to continue to operate, so we’re very pleased,” Jon Kamin, attorney for Lamar Advertising, said.

But it’s just the latest development in a saga that began when Bayer wanted to replace its neon clock with a modern digital display.

The city objected and Bayer withdrew, but when Lamar recruited Giant Eagle as a client, the Peduto administration rejected those plans as well.

“What they were trying to do is go to Giant Eagle and tell them they could advertise for chipped ham, and the board would say what the specials are with Klondikes and milk, and that was never going to happen in this city,” Mayor Bill Peduto said in May 2015.

So the sign just sat and the city began citing Lamar for having a rusty eyesore. After eight citations, the advertising company covered the whole thing with a vinyl advertisement for Sprint.

The two sides went back to court again, but this week, Judge Joe James ruled that the current sign to be a legal use.

“It’s not just a victory for my client, it’s a victory for all of the people of the City of Pittsburgh,” Kamin said.

The city wouldn’t comment, saying they hadn’t seen the decision, but in reality, neither side is entirely happy about the sign remaining in its current state.

KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “But you haven’t been able to do what you wanted to do, which was to modernize the sign and lease it out to a client?”
Kamin: “That application remains pending at the city. It’s been there since 2014, and there’s nothing that would make us happier than being able to bring that sign up to the standard that I think the entire community would want.”

And so the Sprint sign can stay, but whether it will ever be replaced by something better depends on whether Lamar and the city can reach a compromise. But for four years, that hasn’t been the case.