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With pandemic ending, DOT checking, village officials reinforcing local law
By Joshua Maloni
Following three years of relaxed enforcement on “sandwich board” signs, the Village of Lewiston intends to again limit these promotional markers. It has been working with the Planning Commission on drafting new law language.
Though the municipal code already restricts A-frame and portable signs, the Board of Trustees will hold a public information session to discuss further modifying the law.
Elected leaders didn’t oppose “sandwich board” signs during the pandemic, particularly when businesses were closed or forced to scale-down to takeout and drive-thru.
But now, Planning Board member Doreen Albee said, “sandwich board” and similar signs “are multiplying like rabbits” and, “at this point, we’re just extremely concerned.”
Village of Lewiston Clerk Shannon Fundis noted, “We have a few businesses that have not applied for signs, because they don’t have to. Because they can just throw a ‘sandwich board’ out there.”
Mayor Anne Welch said, “We allowed them during COVID. Anything we could do to help, so we allowed them to put ‘sandwich boards’ out wherever. COVID’s over.”
The new law would curb, but not completely eliminate, “sandwich board” signs.
“You could do case-by-case, if they wanted to appeal. Have a variance for a sign for some reason,” Welch said.
In recent board meetings, some businesses mentioned as having special circumstances included Queen B’s Cottage, Brewed and Bottled Craft Beer Shop, and Sgt. Peppers Hot Sauces, Etc. – each in operation off Center Street, directly behind the main business district.
The mayor added, “There’s times when you could offer other options to them, like projecting signs or something like that, that will identify the business.”
“We, the Planning Board and the Village Board, can say, ‘Yes,’ as appropriate,” Planning Board Chairman Norm Machelor said.
Welch also told members of the Planning Commission that she contacted the New York State Department of Transportation regarding Center Street, as that roadway is DOT-controlled.
“DOT doesn’t allow them,” she said. “But they can’t police them. …
“Basically, they said, ‘No.’ ”
Albee crafted the following amendment, which the Board of Trustees will consider:
Section 13. Sign regulations
Change number 25 to:
“Sandwich Board Sign” – a hinged freestanding sign that is composed of two sign faces diverging at an angle of no more than 45 degrees from their adjoined edge.
Previous text was “Sandwich board sign” – a hinged freestanding sign of any size, unattached to any building or ground surface and which opens in an “A” shape, whether professionally designed and manufactured or created or designed in any freehand style.
C. Prohibited Signs
Item 13 – No sandwich board signs of any size, shape or design shall be permitted within the public right-of-way of village streets, nor on private property.
The New York State Department of Transportation does not allow Sandwich Board signs within the public right of way of village streets. The requirements of item 13 may only be waived for signs located on private property upon review and approval of a special use permit by the Planning Board. A conditional approval of a sandwich board sign and its specific location may be made if its use is supported by evidence presented to the Planning Board by the owner of the business for which said exception is requested showing that, because of topography, some other physical condition, or extenuating circumstances, enforcement of this section would create an unusual and undue hardship. Evidence of insurance coverage for the sign must be submitted with the application.
If approved, the use of one Sandwich Board sign would be allowed for a one-year period and it would not be counted towards the allowed signage. The sign must be non-illuminated, not exceed 8 square feet in area and 4 feet in height and have nothing attached to it. It must be brought in by dusk and not put out until dawn and be sufficiently secure to prevent movement from the wind. Any weights or cords used with the sign must also be taken in with the sign. Placement will not obstruct free egress from a window, door, or a fire escape and will not interfere with vehicular or pedestrian access or visibility.
The use of a Sandwich Board sign is a privilege not a right. Failure to comply with the requirements detailed above will result in the revocation of the special use permit.
There is no date set for the public hearing. Trustees will discuss the issue at Monday’s monthly meeting.