Possible Sign Code Changes
Two sign variances were approved by village board members for Sunoco, 58 Main St. and the new Rite Aid being constructed on East Main Street adjacent to Seacomm on Oct. 17.
Sign variances are becoming increasingly common in the village and Mayor Michael E. Dalton said it is time to look at making a change.
"We seem to always be getting requests for sign variances," he said. "We have asked the planning board to review the sign code to see if there is something we can do to reduce those variances."
According to Code Enforcement Officer Russell B. Lawrence IV, the planning board is aware that a change needs to be made and said he has been researching what the village could do to curb the number of variance requests.
"We are going to do what we can to get some changes made, at least propose some changes," Mr. Lawrence said. "We have had a minute discussion about it at this point, just that we know we need to make some adjustments."
Rite Aid and Sunoco are not the only companies that have requested sign variances this year. Pizza Hut also looked for leniency when it constructed its new restaurant in the University Plaza on Route 11.
"Pizza Hut changed in a way where they wanted to advertise something a little bit different. It was a new concept for them, there are only a few of those stores nationwide. That required some rethinking," Mr. Dalton said.
The municipality eventually allowed Pizza Hut to erect three signs on the side of their building, each measuring 1 foot by 4 feet, reading "Pizza," "Wings" and "Beer."
One of the issues with changing the sign code is that the historical district needs to be protected. As it currently stands, the historic district of Main Street operates under the same code as the rest of the village, including the east end of the municipality where more corporate businesses are moving in. Signage in the historic district is kept under strict guidelines to maintain the atmosphere of the area.
"It is almost perfect for downtown, but it is not a one zone fits all, which is how its current form is made up," Mr. Lawrence said of the code.
"I think the corporations all have their own ideas of what they want to display. I am sure some of them think bigger is always better but they always want to seem to push it a little bit further," Mr. Dalton said. "I get that in some areas where speed may be a little higher that a larger sign might be appropriate, or if a building or store is set back in off of the main drive that it is appropriate for a larger sign to be visible so that people can easily see what it is that is in there."
Mr. Lawrence said the code was changed in 2009 and the current code is better than it used to be. He explained part of the problem now is the portion of East Main Street that is being heavily developed did not used to be in the village.
"Up until the last number of years, those properties were in the town. So what they had for signs back then were allowed in the town, so this is trying to meld that all together in some ways. It is like the village inherited those signs," he said.
Mr. Lawrence said the recent flood of site plan reviews have made it impossible to find time to discuss potential code changes, but he said they should be able to work on it soon.
"Going ahead the next couple months, we should be able to sink our teeth into it," he said.
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