By Claire Walla
Typically, when a home is for sale, a house is under construction, or a front yard displays second-hand items for sale at a reasonable price, signs will be posted to communicate that.
But at a North Haven Village Board meeting last Tuesday, January 7, village trustees considered something different: what if they weren’t?
“I think we should do away with all signs,” said Trustee Jeff Sander. He clarified this proposed change by saying such an ordinance would exclude street signs (which are not under the village’s jurisdiction) and street addresses. “It just makes it so much simpler if you do away with [signs].”
The board has been considering amending its sign code since December, when a village resident complained about a handmade, wooden sign, which reads “144 Ferry Road,” that was displayed at a residence near the North Haven traffic circle, at the corner of Ferry Road and Maunakea Street. The sign, hand-carved and larger than the average real-estate sign, became the object of discussion for its size and its close proximity to the road.
Village Attorney Anthony Tohill helped to draft a newer version of this section of town code, which was considered at the board’s last meeting in January. However, after board members discussed a desire to impose stricter sign enforcement, Tohill will now go back to the drawing board and consider whether North Haven will be able to do away with signs altogether.
“I’m not even sure a total prohibition on signs is permitted [by law],” Tohill continued. “I’ll have look into it.”
Though members of the board expressed interest in banning all signs — including real estate signs — they also recognized that the reality is more nuanced than that. Sander pointed out that North Haven does include one commercial business, which he said would need to have signage; and Trustee Jim Smythe brought up the fact that the village bounds are marked by the village’s own signs.
“One of the problems with sign regulations is you want to keep them more simple than complicated, and say less than more,” Tohill explained. “Trying to cover too many bases causes more problems.”
Tohill explained he is familiar with sign restrictions currently in effect in both Southampton Village and Westhampton Beach, and he will use those regulations as a reference for drafting an updated version of North Haven’s sign code that takes the trustees’ concerns into consideration.
In other news…
At it’s next meeting on Tuesday, March 6, the North Haven Village Board will consider a local law to allow village trustees to override the state-imposed tax levy limit.
“Enactment of an override is virtually standard,” Village Attorney Anthony Tohill said. He went on to explain that the downturn in the U.S. economy has had a particularly strong impact on local municipalities. So, especially for a district like North Haven, which depends largely on housing tax revenues, overriding the tax levy cap might be imperative for preventing the village from dipping into its reserve funds.
While Village Clerk Georgia Welch noted that the village hasn’t raised the tax rate in the past six years, Mayor Laura Nolan said the village has recently seen an even bigger decline in revenues from the building department.
Nolan said that according to the village’s building department, which issues permits for new construction projects in the village, there wasn’t even one new structure reported last month.
“That was the lightest building inspector’s report since I’ve been at the village,” she said. “I don’t think we’re going to reach our anticipated income through the building department.”
While enacting this local law would allow the village to override the tax cap, Nolan added that this law would not mean that the village would necessarily do so. “We would just be able to do it, if necessary,” she said.