By Joshua Maloni
Revised text for a proposed change to the Village of Lewiston’s “sandwich board” sign law was presented at Monday’s monthly municipal meeting.
Mayor Anne Welch said, “During COVID, we allowed ‘sandwich board’ signs, banners, curbside – whatever we could do to help the businesses get their business and keep it going. Our current law, before COVID, stated that the ‘sandwich boards’ were not permitted. They were several years ago, and then they stopped because it got out of control.
“We want to work with the business people, but we need some kind of control so they don’t get out of control again. Obviously, New York State DOT does not permit them, but they don’t police it. So, we’re looking into ways that we can still take care of our businesses and accommodate our businesses, but this is the law that we have to come up with.
“Right now, it is not permitted at all. So, we’re working on that.”
These changes follow an initial law modification proposal at last week’s Planning Commission meeting.
The text was modified like this:
Local Law #15-2023 – amend Section 13 (Sign Regulations) to read:
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.
“Sandwich board” signs will be discussed at a public hearing set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, inside the Red Brick Municipal Building, 145 N. Fourth St. Village of Lewiston trustees will then vote on adopting Law No. 15-2023, amending Section 13 (sign regulations).
Welch said, “We never changed the law. We just relaxed it during COVID. With that law on the books right now, no one is allowed a ‘sandwich board’ ” at all – not on private or public property.
“It’s not a permitted sign anywhere,” she said.
The proposed modification could allow placement of such a “sandwich board” under certain circumstances – specifically for businesses that have “extenuating circumstances” where “enforcement of this section would create an unusual and undue hardship.” The text suggests those “extenuating circumstances” arise when a business is not clearly visible to potential patrons, because of location, topography or obstruction.
Trustee Dan Gibson said, “I would like to see, within this law, that they’re allowed one ‘sandwich board.’ Not multiple ‘sandwich boards.’ ”
Welch said, “That’s why it’s going to be probably a case-by-case basis.” Businesses also can apply to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance to the law.
She noted plazas, and structures with multiple units, generally would have to share one “sandwich board” “with the list of the businesses on it. You can’t have five ‘sandwich boards’ all in a row.”
Trustee Tina Coppins said, “I feel that everybody should get one, but they have to be taken in at night. Not sitting out all night.”
Center Street resident, businessman and former Trustee Ronald Craft said, “Try to work with these businesses. … We’re losing retail.”
Welch said, “I think we do work with the businesses. That’s what we try to do.”
Craft said, “We’ve got a good village going, and we should be working together. I think we can do that.”
Also at Monday’s Village of Lewiston Board meeting, trustees voted to approve:
•Plans for a covered outdoor patio bar at Gallo Coal Fire Kitchen, 402 Center St. These plans were previously approved by the Historic Preservation and Planning commissions, and owner Michael Hibbard received an area variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.
•A proposal to build a seasonal item storage room outside of DiMino’s Lewiston Tops at 906 Center St.
•Community Missions’ request to collect monetary/food donations at the Artpark State Park main gate on the corner of South Fourth and Tuscarora streets on Friday, June 16; Wednesday, June 28; Saturday, July 8; Friday, July 14; Saturday, Aug. 5; and Sunday, Aug. 20.
The Niagara Falls agency will collaborate with the Ransomville Care-N-Share food pantry, which also has permission to hold fundraising drives during the Artpark & Company concert season.
•“The Mighty Fitz 5K,” with a race start time of 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4.
•A vote also was made to hire Lara Pallone for the cleaner position at the Red Brick, effective June 1.
Slight Change to Budget
An assessment change led the Village Board to approve a small adjustment (less than $60) to the recently adopted fiscal year 2023-24 budget.
The amendment reads: “A motion to amend the previously authorized levy of real property taxes for the 2023-2024 Tax Warrant directing the Clerk to receive and collect taxes, in the amount of, $1,273,551.57, this is a difference of $53.52; a relevy of water and sewer charges in the amount of $24,880.98 a total warrant to collect $1,298,432.55. This will also change the total amount of fund balance used to balance the budget from $648,710 to $648,657.”
Prior to the board meeting, a series of public hearings were held with regard to adding additional parking on North Water Street, at the Onondaga Street corner across from The Silo Restaurant; on removing sections of the code; and on rezoning.
The following measures were approved:
√ Local Law No. 13-2023 – Remove Section 9.D.B.1.vi
“Restaurants and drinking places provided all service and on-premises consumption take place within an enclosed building except, that after notification by registered or certified mail of all owners of abutting property and subsequent acceptance in writing by said property owners, and subject to the recommendation by the planning commission and subject to all conditions imposed by said commission, service and consumption may also take place in completely defined outdoor cafe areas.”
√ Local Law No. 14-2023 – Remove the following verbiage from Section 10.G.2
“The applicant shall also furnish a signed statement by all abutting property owners saying that they agree to the construction and have no objections.”
√ Rezoning the following properties from B-1 (general business, multiple family, townhouse) to R-2 (residential, two-family, townhouse): 120 N. Seventh St. (SBL 101.11-1-53), 140 N. Seventh St. (SBL 101.11-1-54), 160 N. Seventh St. (SBL 101.11- 1-55), 170 N. Seventh St. (SBL 101.1 T-1-56), 715 Onondaga St. (SBL 101.11-1-57), and 725 Onondaga St. (SBL 101.11-1-58).
•Trustees are rethinking their idea to add parking spaces to the waterfront. Residents Rebecca and Steven Kassay started a conversation asking if the removal of green space – where cars currently park anyway – is worth it in the long term. No decision was made.