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Oyster Bay supervisor orders removal of new street signs

Supervisor John Venditto is shown at Oyster Bay

Supervisor John Venditto is shown at Oyster Bay Town Hall on Aug. 12, 2014. Credit: Jason Andrew

Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto issued an executive order Tuesday to remove two road signs in Syosset that area residents said caused traffic problems.

The order, which was effective immediately, will spur the removal of signs on Berry Hill and Cold Spring roads that prohibited left turns onto Renee Road during certain hours.

The signs were intended to alleviate traffic on Renee Road, which some have used as a short cut between Berry Hill and Cold Spring roads; but area residents said the diverted traffic became a problem in the two weeks since the signs were installed.

"People are putting you on notice that the potential for serious accidents and resulting injuries are very real," Venditto said following the meeting.

The supervisor said the executive order was intended to "minimize the possibility of anything catastrophic happening."

Before the order, about a dozen people spoke on the issue after a "walk on" resolution added to the agenda authorized $10,000 for the Melville-based engineering firm Nelson & Pope Engineers & Surveyors to study the problem.

In January, the firm recommended the signs be installed, and the town board approved them last month following a public hearing.

Most speakers at Tuesday's meeting said the signs had unintended consequences, causing traffic problems on other streets.

Speaking in favor of removing the signs, area resident John Arfman, 55, a mechanical engineer, said the signs were "an attempt to solve a problem that created a more significant problem. The traffic overflow that was pushed into other areas of North Syosset are significant issues of safety that did not exist in those communities before."

Renee Road resident Gary Ballensweig, however, said the signs had improved the situation for residents on his block.

"It's a noticeable and welcome change," Ballensweig said. "Traffic over time on Renee Road had become unbearable and unsafe."

Town officials have scheduled a public hearing on May 26 about permanently changing the town code to remove the signs. But Venditto said he believes the signs were coming down for good after his executive order and the town would need to find other approaches to dealing with the problem on Renee Road.

"We . . . want to know that whatever we do is not going to cause the same kind of area-wide reaction," Venditto said.

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