Niagara Gazette

September 3, 2013

Sign law slowly taking shape in Village of Lewiston

By Timothy Chipp
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — LEWISTON — Progress has been slow completing a new sign law in the Village of Lewiston, the author said Tuesday.

Kenneth Slagenhoupt, village planning board chairman, said he's no closer to completing revised legislation designed to better enforce signage restrictions throughout the area following an August public hearing.

"I'm thinking this isn't going to be resolved in the next 30 days," he said during the village board's work session.

Slagenhoupt originally crafted a law to replace the current version on the books and presented it to the village board Aug. 19, in which he explained new regulations restricting LED displays and practically eliminating A-frame "sandwich board" signs from village use.

The LED signs, which are brightly-lit video boards capable of animated graphics, would be illegal in historic properties throughout the village, though it is likely to expand to cover entire historic districts before it's adopted.

Opinions expressed at the public hearing, expressing a concern about eliminating A-frame signs, prompted the board to refer the matter back to the chairman for further review. Residents and business owners speaking at the meeting said they'd support "sandwich board" signs for a limited time but didn't care for an outright ban, despite board members calling them hazards sitting in the pedestrian right-of-way.

Slagenhoupt decided to change his proposed law drastically concerning the "sandwich boards," which he's proposing to allow in the village during a set time and a set sign fee. He initially said June 15 through Sept. 15 would be the allotted time and would require a specified sticker licensing the board for use.

"This way, if the enforcement officer walks by and sees the sign is out of date, he picks it up and takes it to someplace the owner would have to interact with the village to retrieve," he said.

The holdup in authoring the new law comes from the exceptions he'd have to create, as nonprofit, church and governmental groups using a sign would need special exception under the new law. Many of them, including the village's own recreation department, use a "sandwich board" sign to advertise day-of events for a limited number of hours.

Businesses in high concentration with each other would also present some headaches if allowed to use signs, Mayor Terry Collesano said. In situations where businesses share a building with others, he said, it would be best if a sign could be shared rather than have multiple signs sitting on the sidewalk.

"We're going to have more signs than we do now," Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland added. "I just liked (the law) the way it was, with no 'sandwich boards' allowed."

Village attorney Edward Jesella agreed with Sutherland's opinion, citing the ongoing proliferation of signs throughout the village. He called it "eye pollution" and said it's "getting out of hand."

But after conversation continued, he stepped back and advised the board to consider the revisions to see if they work.

If not, there's always next year, he said.

"You might as well give it a shot," he said. "If it's not working, we can always go back and fix it next year."

Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.