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Sign debate delays vote on zoning changes

Signs collected from town property are piled up at the town’s highway department in late November. (submitted photo)

Signs collected from town property are piled up at the town’s highway department in late November. (submitted photo)

Proposed changes to Bethlehem’s Zoning Law and Subdivision Regulations were tabled at the Town Board’s Dec. 14 meeting after a lengthy discussion of an issue that wasn’t addressed in the changes.

Town planning officials have worked since March on the latest set of zoning changes. The package of amendments put before the board addressed issues ranging from cell tower siting regulations to the definition of a laundromat.

Before debating the entire package of changes, board members heard from two residents who asked town officials to consider adding a more defined sign policy to the long list of zoning amendments. One of those residents was Amanda Fallon, who spoke on behalf of the Hamagrael Elementary PTA Craft Fair Committee. She was concerned about the fact signs she believed to be permissible were being taken down. She said signs have been removed in the past month advertising a craft fair that was held in early December.

“One of the messages I had was that we’re helping the community,” said Fallon. “Every not-for-profit raises money that’s put back into the community.”

Later in the meeting, Councilman Mark Hennessey expressed his interest in tabling a vote on the zoning changes, saying the “holistic package” should include some statement on the sign policy issue. Supervisor Sam Messina disagreed, saying that the board should tackle the sign issue separately.

“I’m not sure the benefits of tabling 6 months of good work on 99 percent of the major policy areas for one provision, when the board could just as easily review that,” said Messina, who added that it may take months for the issue to be addressed.

Hennessey said he wasn’t comfortable voting on the regulations without consideration of temporary signs and said it simply came down to a matter of the regulations not being ready.

“This is one remaining item that needs to be addressed,” said Hennessey. “I’m more than happy to make sure that it gets addressed so that we can take it up.”

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