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Brookhaven’s Romaine wants billboards on county roads removed

A billboard across the street from King Kullen

A billboard across the street from King Kullen on Eastport-Manor Road in Eastport on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. Credit: James Carbone

Brookhaven Town Supervisor Edward P. Romaine is urging Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to remove commercial billboards that are on county-owned roads throughout the town.

“They are unnecessary and they distract drivers and the beauty of the area,” Romaine said in a Tuesday interview of what he characterized as more than 20 commercial billboards in Brookhaven that sit on county-owned property.

Since 2004, Brookhaven has not permitted commercial billboards on town roads.

In a Dec. 22 letter to Bellone and the Suffolk County Legislature, Romaine wrote: “I would ask that Suffolk County follow in the town’s footsteps and adopt legislation that would phase out billboards along county roads.”

Romaine added, “Although New York State and Suffolk County roads and highways are intertwined within the town boundaries, the town does not have the authority to enforce billboard amortization on county and state roads.”

Suffolk County officials said they haven’t seen the billboards.

“We’re in receipt of the letter and will do an appropriate investigation … and if warranted, create legislation,” to remove the billboards, Suffolk County spokeswoman Vanessa Baird-Streeter said in an interview.

She said while erecting commercial billboards on county property isn’t allowed, civic organizations and community organization occasionally work with the county’s public works department to erect billboards “for informational purposes,” such as welcome signs.

The intent of section 57A of the Brookhaven Town Code was to create a more visually aesthetic community and maintain the rural and suburban character of the town “by limiting and ultimately eliminating certain kinds of commercial signage defined in this chapter as billboard,” the code reads.

Town officials said one of the billboards they object to is located on Eastport-Manor Road across from the King Kullen shopping center. Others are at the northeast corner of Montauk Highway and Seatuck Avenue, and along Montauk Highway where it merges with Eastport Manor near the Triangle Pub. Those signs are in Eastport.

In his letter to Bellone and the legislature, Romaine said: “I hope you agree that billboards are not only distracting to drivers but simultaneously deteriorate the visually appealing character of our communities.

“Thus, I would urge the Suffolk County Legislature … to adopt legislation requiring amortization and the eventual removal of the billboards located on county highways. Doing so will ensure the safety of our residents and aesthetic integrity of our county.”

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