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Message on sign prompts protest
Abington residents protested a vague message on an electronic sign in the 800 block of Old York Road Aug. 17.

The relatively new sign at Noble Square, in front of the former Houlihan's restaurant, features an electronic and color display that says the word "UNION" in the middle of a red circle with a line through it, as one of its several messages. The messages cycle every couple of seconds - the following message is the same, but adds the phrase, "HOLD THE LINE," under the red circle. The message was up as of Tuesday. Goodman Properties, a real estate and development management firm out of Jenkintown, owns the property.

John Spiegelman, one of the protesters, said he doesn't know how long the message has been displayed, but noticed it last week.

"I don't really know the background behind the sign," Spiegelman said, "but others took offense to it. It's a rather odd thing to have up on a glorified electric clock and a lot of people around here are pro-union."

Spiegelman isn't affiliated with a union, as he is self-employed, but said his wife, a teacher, is a union member. He said several neighbors organized the protest at both Noble Square and the 600 block of Old York Road, where Goodman Properties' offices are.

"It was an impromptu thing," Spiegelman said. "I wanted to make a statement because none of us has any idea the origin of the [message.]"

Spiegelman said Goodman Properties representatives did not speak to the protesters.

Bruce Goodman, owner of Goodman Properties did not return calls Tuesday prior to press time. A woman from his office said, "We don't have a statement on that at all."

Abington Township Director of Planning and Code Enforcement Larry Matteo said the zoning hearing board approved the sign in July of last year along with variances for its size and use of LEDs. Matteo said Goodman testified that the sign would be used to promote the businesses in Noble Square and to display events or news that would be beneficial to the township. As per code, Matteo said Goodman will receive a letter instructing him to remove the message within 14 days.

The electronic sign also displays the time and temperature and makes reference to Linda's Loft and Curds and Whey, two of the businesses in Noble Square. Linda Rubin, owner of the former, said she doesn't notice the sign, as her clothing store business doesn't front Old York Road.

"I really only know about it - I only heard that people were picketing," Rubin said. "I don't notice it because I come in through the side entrance. I don't notice it and neither do my customers."

The owner of Curds and Whey, who didn't give her name, said, "[The sign] doesn't affect my business and it's an issue between the landlord and the union."
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