Rotterdam amends law governing signs

The Rotterdam Town Board on Wednesday, April 9, voted unanimously to adopt a local law that permits only public schools and public firehouses to use lighted signage.

The new law states that, except for public schools and firehouses, no sign can contain or be illuminated by flashing, intermittent rotating or moving lights.

Last month, a number of local business owners complained in front of the board that the exemption should be extended to include town businesses.

Supervisor Steven Tommasone said he would consult with the public works department and with members of the planning commission to consider whether or not it would be viable for the town to permit businesses and certain nonprofit organizations to use flashing signs.

What we don't want is a proliferation of these signs, but we understand we need to keep up with the technology, said Tommasone.

Tommasone said he would be supportive of expanding the exemption so long as the signs stayed within the confines of a given piece of property and were not in the street. He also said he would only favor an expanded exemption if the signs were turned off when the business is closed.

Tommasone said he wants to ensure the quality of life of Rotterdam's residents is not infringed on by a rapid increase of signage, but he also admitted that he wanted to protect the town's small business owners who can't afford to constantly advertise their businesses elsewhere.

"We have to keep our small business people in town," said Tommasone. "The cost of advertising is rising and our businesses are looking for a competitive advantage. Lighted signs may not sound like a big issue, but for some small business owners it may be."

In last month's public hearing on the law, Anthony Segretto, owner of D'Aurizio's Pizzeria on Curry Road admitted that an electronic sign in his window that advertised his daily pizza and chicken wing specials was in violation of the town code.

Segretto said his sign was his major means of advertising, and since its installation two years ago, he had to hire more staff to keep up with an increase in business.

"Business had increased 25 percent," said Segretto.

Tommasone said that businesses like D'Aurizio's Pizzeria would not be cited with a violation while public works and the planning commission investigate the possibility of passing a new local law that would allow more electronic signs.""

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