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Boy Scouts pan Bethlehem sign law

Troop says updated law hurt last year’s Sportsmart sales

Boy Scouts from Bethlehem Troop 75 spoke out against the town’s temporary sign law on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at Town Hall. The troop said they believe profits from their annual fundraiser went down 15 percent last year because they lost prime advertising space.

Boy Scouts from Bethlehem Troop 75 spoke out against the town’s temporary sign law on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at Town Hall. The troop said they believe profits from their annual fundraiser went down 15 percent last year because they lost prime advertising space. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— Town Board members said they had wanted to allow nonprofits and community groups to be able to put up their signs on public property, but found it would be unconstitutional for the town to enforce the law for political signs but to look the other way for signs they were in favor of.

Some of the older boys who attended the meeting seemed to understand Kuhn’s explanation, while other younger Scouts appeared not to.

Supervisor John Clarkson said he would be happy to put the Boy Scouts in touch with other community groups who have found ways to work around the sign law, while Councilman Bill Reinhardt offered up his own yard as a location to place signs after election season is over. They also said another “loophole” is to physically hold up the signs, but Town Board members said they do not suggest kids do so along busy roadways or without adults present.

Peter Lauricella, the troop’s adult spokesperson and co-chairman of the Sportsmart organization committee, said as a lawyer himself he disagreed with Kuhn’s interpretation of the law because it limits First Amendment rights.

Kuhn then read from the State of New York’s 75-page Municipal Control of Signs document, describing a specific court decision that upheld a town’s sign law because it specifically enforced the same restrictions of all temporary signs and not just those of a political nature.

Lauricella said he understood the concept but still feels all signs should be allowed.

Town Board members said they do not plan to make changes to the sign law, but vowed to help the Boy Scouts with their advertising efforts.

Kim Lawler, co-chairwoman of the Hamagrael (Elementary School) Craft Fair, spoke at the meeting and said she was originally against the law, but her group found a way to make their event successful and did not see a drop in sales.

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