Tag Archive | "sign"

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Village Attorney Anthony Tohill helped to draft a newer version of this section of town code, which was considered at the board’s last meeting in January.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

North Haven Seeks to Redefine “Sign”

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web North Haven Sign

By Claire Walla


It began last month with a letter from North Haven Village resident Carol Ahlers.

Addressing the village trustees, Ahlers wrote that she didn’t exactly care for the new, handmade wooden address that now sits on the corner of Ferry Road and Maunakea Street. The wooden carving, featuring a blocky rendition of the address “144 Ferry,” rests against a large, vertical surface of overlapping twigs.

Ahlers’ letter has since prompted village officials to re-examine the portion of village code that pertains to signage. While the Ferry Road sign is relatively large and sits very close to the road, the trustees said it wasn’t quite clear in the village code whether or not it is technically permitted.

Homeowner Kathie Russo said her boyfriend created the sign for the front of the house merely because in the past people couldn’t easily find their home.  “We did it for convenience and to be artistic,” rather than putting up a street address featuring “run-of-the-mill numbers,” Russo said.  “Not in any way was it our intention to be offensive to anyone.”

But according to Village Clerk Georgia Welch, “The thing is that the definition [of ‘sign’] does not get into specifics.”

According to North Haven Village Code, there are specific parameters for real estate signs, which cannot rest within 15 feet of the property line, or within 25 feet of the street. However, these specifics do not extend to any other type of sign. And while one “non-illuminated nameplate” sign (not to exceed two square feet) is permitted per household, Welch said the current code still leaves much open to interpretation.

“Signs can be troublesome. Everyone’s interpretation of a sign is very different,” she continued. “Anything that identifies anything can be considered a sign.”

Village Trustee George Butts sparked a dialogue about the specific aspects of the village code and expressed an interest in homing in on what exactly those changes should entail.

Currently, the village code defines “sign” as “a letter, word, model, banner, pennant, insignia, trade flag, device or representation used as, or which is in the nature of, an advertisement, attraction or directive.”

The proposed law as it currently stands (though it’s likely to be amended before the board’s next meeting) more clearly defines what this definition should encompass as: “any material, device or structure displaying or intending to display one or more messages visually and used for the purpose of bringing such messages to the attention of the public.”

It continues, “The term ‘sign’ shall also mean and include any display of one or more of the following: any letter, numeral, figure, emblem, picture, outline, character, spectacle, delineation, announcement, trademark or logo.”

The need to clarify what types of signs would be permitted in the village was made clear during the course of the meeting when Trustee Diane Skilbred said in reference to the Ferry Road structure: “The problem with that is it’s not 25 feet in [away from the road].”

However, Butts explained the situation is not that simple. For example, he said he has a small rectangular sign on his property that displays his home address; it is fastened to the front gate of his home. Should the 25-foot restriction go into effect, he argued, then he’d have to move his address back, as well.

For the record, Butts said “I have no problem with the sign [on Ferry Road].”

But, he urged the board to hold off on voting to change the wording in the village code until the wording of this aspect of village code had been worked out.

“We could end up with a whole big thing on our hands,” he added. “I don’t want to start that. I just want it done once.”

Welch said the village trustees would submit their comments and concerns to Village Attorney Anthony Tohill, who would draft another proposal to amend the definition of a sign, as laid-out in the village code.

As of Wednesday, Russo said she had yet to be contacted by anyone from the village on the matter.  “It’s not a huge deal for us,” she said.  “If we have to take ti down, we take it down.  I’m all for communicating with everyone.”

In other news…

The Village Trustees voted unanimously to approve Local Law #1 of 2012, which extends a law passed in 2011 to provide a temporary moratorium on wireless communications towers and antennas.

Board members also voted to hold two public hearings at next month’s meeting regarding two additional new laws. The first would extend the moratorium on dock applications, which was originally voted into law in 2011. And the second would provide for a procedure for issuance of demolition permits.

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.