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North Haven Considers Doing Away With Signs

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North Haven adjusted

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Village Attorney Anthony Tohill helped to draft a newer version of this section of town code, which was considered at the board’s last meeting in January.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.

ZBA Application Fees Up $350 in North Haven Village

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By Claire Walla

Citing net losses of nearly 30 percent over the past few years, the North Haven Village Board of Trustees have voted unanimously to raise the fee for applications before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The cost will increase from $600 to $950 — effective immediately.

“We shouldn’t be losing money,” said Village Trustee Diane Skilbred, echoing the sentiments of her fellow board members at the trustees monthly meeting on Tuesday when the vote was taken.

Village Clerk Georgia Welch explained that while applicants have historically paid to have their applications heard by the board, in recent years the number of applications has risen dramatically. Whereas the board used to hear anywhere from zero to three applications a month, since 2008 the board has typically seen around five applications.

One year Welch said the board ultimately took in $3,000 in application fees, but ended up spending $5,000 in service fees; another year applications totaled $6,000, while service fees cost $9,000. These fees include payments for a stenographer and other legal services, “because it’s a quasi-judicial board,” Welch explained. “There are avenues where court action can be taken.”

The fee will apply to all new applications going forward. Welch said all applications that are currently in the process of being heard will be unaffected by the village’s new fee.

Unsatisfactory Signage, to Some

North Haven resident Carol Ahlers isn’t pleased. In reference to a wooden sign bearing block lettering that was recently erected at the corner of a residence on Ferry Road, she wrote, “you can’t miss it, it’s ugly, it’s illuminated at night and it’s huge.”

She continued, “Can we make this sign disappear?”

Members of the North Haven Village Board said they had already contacted Village Attorney Anthony Tohill about the matter.

“It’s awfully close to the road,” said Trustee Jeff Sander.

“We suspect it’s on village property,” added Welch.

In fact, the only signs permitted in the village are nameplate or professional signs (not to exceed two square feet); real estate signs (not to exceed four square feet); and subdivision signs (not to exceed 10 square feet), for which residents are also required to obtain a building permit.

Greening A Village

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By Claire Walla

As the village of North Haven continues down the green road toward solar heating, clerk Georgia Welch updated the board at its most recent meeting on Tuesday about the steps needed to secure a bid for the project, as well as the financial costs the town board could expect to pay to redo the village hall’s roof.

Welch explained that she met with the village’s grant writer the week prior and learned that, unfortunately, the opportunity to receive grant money to complete the project “has been closed for quite a while.”

But, Welch said the village will keep pursuing other options.

“[The grant writer] is going to explore other opportunities so she will continue to let me know what may become available,” Welch added.

Welch also relayed two estimates to the board for costs associated with replacing the roof over village hall. (Though slated to happen in conjunction with the installation of solar panels, the roof replacement project has already been written into this year’s budget and will take place regardless of whether or not the village goes solar.)

The estimates are based on two different options: fully replacing the current wood shingles, or replacing the wood with an asphalt material known as GAF timberline. Based on calculations made by Village Building Inspector Al Daniels, the cost of the first project is estimated to be about $38,000. The cost of using asphalt shingling would hover closer to $27,000, saving the village roughly $11,000.

The board has not made any decisions either way, but board members seemed more inclined to go for the less expensive GAF timberline material, which is also expected to last longer than wood. Board members have asked to see samples of each shingle before making their final decision.

In other news…

The village of North Haven approved a request from the North Haven Village Improvement Society to host its annual “Santa Visit” on Saturday, December 17. This is the 58th year the improvement society has sponsored this event.

Board members also approved a resolution to grant an extended contract to Summerhill Landscapers for just under $3,000 to plant additional bulbs at the traffic circle in the village.

While much of the North Haven Village Board meeting went off without a hitch, noticeably absent was Mayor Laura Nolan, who is grieving the loss of her husband, Jonathan Nolan. Nolan unexpectedly passed away on October 10 after a fall in the family’s home.

“Usually in the firehouse we have a moment of silence when there’s been a loss,” said a noticeably choked-up Jim Smyth, a village trustee and member of the Sag Harbor Fire Department.

So the board briefly paused before Smyth continued. “I’m filling in for Laura Nolan because I’m the deputy mayor,” he said. “I told her, we got her back until she’s ready.”