Sidewalk Sign Scrutiny
Special Planning Board Meeting on Ground Signs & Grants
Story & Photo by John Thomas
There seemed to be two agendas at a special Planning Board meeting on Monday night. The meeting was called by Spencer Murry to discuss regulations for the sandwich board signs that dot the downtown sidewalks. About eighteen people, mostly Village business owners, and the Planning Board filled the meeting room in Town/Village Hall. Village Trustee Greg Cappelli also gave a presentation on the Downtown Redevelopment Initiative (DRI) he and Mayor Burrell are promoting.
The meeting started with Mr. Cappelli giving a PowerPoint presentation on the DRI. There is a $10 million fund for grants from the Regional Economic Development Council of NYS. Olean and Jamestown have been recipients of past grants from the Council. The Mayor and Mr. Cappelli made the point that Ellicottville needs to attract more year-round residents to help support the tourism industry. Ellicottville could use grant funds to support a number of projects that would attract more businesses to locate in the Town or Village. They said more businesses would attract more full-time residents who would support downtown establishments. The slideshow illuminated the strong seasonal tourist economy, and mentioned the natural beauty and variety of outdoor recreation available. Mayor Burrell said there are bound to be CEO’s of large businesses who ski at Holiday Valley or HoliMont who would love establish homes and offices here. Mr. Cappelli mentioned the Town/Village grant consultant Diana Cihak is currently working on applications for grants for community projects. She was unable to attend the meeting. Trustee Cappelli said the community would need to be involved in the application process. To that end a survey will be mailed out to residents at the beginning of April, and there will be three more public meetings in March and April. Cappelli asked all residents to fill out the survey and attend the meetings. At the end of his presentation Mr. Cappelli showed some signs from other communities that promoted local businesses. He handed out two pages that showed the alternative signs, saying they could be a different approach to the sandwich signs.
Trustee Spencer Murry had requested the meeting with business owners to gain input on changes to the zoning laws regarding sidewalk signs. In brief, the proposed changes to the sign regulations are: Rooftop signs are not permitted, nor are internally illuminated signs. Sandwich board signs will require a permit and will need approval of the Code Enforcement Officer. Sandwich board signs can be no bigger than six feet square and no higher than three feet tall. (Current law allows signs to be up to 48 inches tall.) Ground signs (excepting real estate signs) can be no larger than 16 square feet and must be 25 feet from the center of the road. (Currently, 32 square feet and 60 feet respectively is allowed.) Wall signs cannot exceed 16 square feet; the current law is 32 square feet. Temporary cloth signs are limited to 16 square feet, down from 32 square feet. The Mayor pointed out the existing sign laws have been in place for 15 -20 years and the most significant proposed change is in the size of signs allowed. Copies of the proposed changes were handed out at the meeting and are available at the Village office.
Community input was also on the mind of Trustee Spencer Murry who said he had called the meeting to gain input from the people the regulations would affect. He said holding public forums was “a good thing to do,” and he was trying to create more “community awareness,” of board discussions. He said he believes in “awareness, communication, and transparency.” The Mayor chimed in thanking people for their participation and said: “Thank God for tonight, it’s wonderful.” Mr. Murry asked the group “everybody good?” There seemed to be a general sense of satisfaction with the meeting and Murry called for adjournment.