Patchogue considers banning sandwich-board signs

The Patchogue Village board is considering banning sandwich The Patchogue Village board is considering banning sandwich boards. Photo Credit: Newsday / Jessica Rotkiewicz

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Sandwich-board signs proliferating on downtown Patchogue sidewalks may soon be folded up and put away, under a ban being considered by the village board.

Residents and officials have said the signs are too numerous and unsightly, but some business owners favor the hinged two-sided signs often propped up outside businesses.

"We've got a hundred sandwich boards, no two which look alike . . ." said trustee Thomas Ferb, who added that the signs make "the village look a little shabby." The sidewalks along Main Street are "public property," he said. "Owners don't have the right to advertise on that space."

Under the proposal, the signs would be banned on public sidewalks. However, they would be allowed if no more than 2 feet wide and 3 1/2 feet high, and placed within six inches of a business, which is considered private property. Businesses often place sandwich boards farther out on public sidewalks and in parking lots to draw customers, but officials say the village could be held liable if someone trips over one and is injured.

"There are some establishments that have more than one sign, and are unreasonable in both size and shape and block free access to the sidewalks," village attorney Brian Egan said.

The village board on Monday decided to accept additional written public comments before ruling on the proposal.

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In Port Jefferson, sandwich boards are not allowed on public sidewalks and must be placed on private property adjacent to a building. The municipal code allows businesses one sandwich board per storefront, said Port Jefferson village clerk Robert Juliano. In Mastic Beach, no signs can be displayed on or hang over a public sidewalk, according to the village code.

Patchogue resident Dennis Ross, 49, opposed a sidewalk ban. "I don't see them to be an issue," he said of the sandwich board signs at a Monday night trustees meeting. "I enjoy them, and I'd hate to see them banned."

But village resident Don Wachsmuth called the boards "unsightly."

David Kennedy, president of the Patchogue Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn't favor an outright ban, but wants the signs regulated. He said most business owners on Main Street prefer the signs.

"An outright ban will affect owners from reaching customers. I understand some changes should be made, but a ban is uncalled for," said John Sarno, who operates Budget Buy & Sell in Patchogue. "I'm sure a reasonable resolution can be reached."

Berry Good Yogurt manager Heather Lake agreed, saying a ban "would hurt the business. It wouldn't be a major blow, but it would hurt. Every advertisement helps to get people in."

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