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Sign law moves ahead

Councilman wonders if rules becoming too complex

— After months of debate, specific changes to Bethlehem’s sign law have been proposed by Councilman Jeffrey Kuhn are moving forward.

Kuhn, a lawyer specializing in environmental, land use, energy and commercial litigation, spent several weeks attempting to rephrase the law so residents could legally place signs of a certain size on their properties and not-for-profit organizations could advertise their events.

A section of the town’s zoning code currently reads, “no sign, other than an official traffic sign shall be erected within the right-of-way of any public street or highway.”

“There are several problems caused by this particular provision,” said Kuhn. “First of all it’s not really enforced. People put up temporary signs in the town’s right-of-ways all the time and as a result of that there’s confusion whether the law applies only to town streets and highways, or if it applies to any public street or highway in the town.”

The proposed change now includes town, county, state or federal streets and highways with some exceptions.

The right-of-ways of several roads were designated as exemption areas. They include a portion of Route 32 from Route 9W to Elm Avenue, a portion of Route 9W from the Delmar Bypass to the City of Albany border, a portion of Route 140 from Kenwood Avenue to Route 85 and a portion of Route 85 from Route 140 to the City of Albany Border. Signs placed there could not exceed 6 square feet in size and could not be placed inside a roundabout. Signs also could not be posted for more than 21 days with 14 days in between, and only two separate occasions would be permitted per person or organization each year.

Additional changes include the allowance of signs on private residences as long as they are not within the right-of-way and do not exceed 6 square feet, but the law excludes signs advertising for-profit businesses. Signs for yard sales, real estate or home repair are already exempt under the existing law. Changes were also made to “prohibit the erection of sidewalk or sandwich boards by a third party” outside of a business.

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