Mary Tracy, president of Scenic Philadelphia, has been an outspoken thorn in the side of the billboard and digital-sign industry for years.

Now that there's a plan for a digital sign on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Tracy is quick to note that in 2013 the American Planning Association listed the boulevard as "one of the 10 Great Streets in America."

Tracy and nine neighbors went to Commonwealth Court yesterday mainly to fight for the legal standing to challenge the signs.

In its brief, the Franklin Institute said it wants to make the two signs, at 20th and Winter streets, digital to alert the public of the changing exhibits more quickly than the current vinyl signs allow.

In July 2012, when the Franklin Institute applied for a permit for the digital signs, the Department of Licenses and Inspections refused. An official said that intermittently flashing signs are not permitted on the Parkway under city laws.

The museum appealed to the Zoning Board of Adjustment, which granted the zoning variance to allow the digital signs.

Last night, Michael Sklaroff, an attorney for the Franklin Institute, said the city's sign code does not define "flashing" or "intermittent."

"We had expert testimony from an experienced engineer who said that this was neither flashing nor intermittent," he said. Sklaroff said the message on the sign would change no more frequently than every 20 seconds.

"It's a continuous flow, not on and off," he said. "It's not flashing and flickering."

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Zoning and Land Use