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Westhampton Beach may allow ad signs in front of businesses

A sandwich board sign at the entrance of

A sandwich board sign at the entrance of a Westhampton Beach shop on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. The owner of Mustique pays a fee for the sign in order not to receive a summons. Credit: Randee Daddona

A proposal to allow Westhampton Beach businesses to display currently prohibited sandwich board signs on Main Street is being considered among village officials.

Village Trustee Brian Tymann, who brought the idea before the board at its Oct. 18 work session, said several business owners on Main Street recently approached him about whether the village would allow them to place sandwich boards outside their businesses.

Under Section D of Chapter 197-30 of the village code, such signs are prohibited.

“Based on feedback, some business owners I heard from thought it would help them,” Tymann said.

Similar proposals in previous years were shot down, according to several town officials, largely due to former village trustees and some business owners objecting to how the signs might look and pedestrians potentially tripping on them.

Tymann suggested allowing signs under a seasonal permit, where the village could approve the signs during certain times of the year and revisit the matter on an annual basis.

As part of the permit process, Tymann said the signs could have village-approved requirements on size, material and placement to avoid them obstructing public sidewalks.

The board will further review the proposal before deciding whether to go forward, said Westhampton Beach Mayor Maria Moore.

Michael Brunetti, 65, a North Fork resident who owns both Brunetti Pizza and Brunetti Hair and Beauty on Main Street, said Friday that he welcomes the idea.

“The signs would be a great idea because the goal is to create more walking space where people could walk around and enjoy the beautiful shops and things,” Brunetti said, noting that the village is working on projects aimed at beautifying Main Street. “I think it would lend itself to that as long as it’s keeping with the look of the town.”

Craig Swift, who owns Goldberg’s Famous Deli and Restaurant on Main Street, said he supports a change in the no-sign policy.

“I think it’s a fine idea,” he said. “I don’t think it would interfere with the pedestrian traffic and I think it would give stores more visibility.”

Elyse Richman, who owns Shock Ice Cream & Dessert Café on Main Street and is the secretary of the Greater Westhampton Chamber of Commerce, said the debate over such signs had been going on for years and hasn’t yielded a solution.

She and the village were locked in a four-year battle over a 6-foot-tall ice cream cone that Richman placed outside her shop in 2010. She contended it was art, but village officials said it was a sign and issued her a summons for violating village ordinance. After dismissals of the case and appeals, Richman was issued a summons and paid a $250 fine in December 2014, ending a prosecution that cost the village more than $23,000 in legal fees.

“Maybe sandwich boards could be good, but maybe it’s not the answer, maybe there’s another answer,” Richman said. “For some businesses that are off Main Street, it’s hard to promote yourself when nobody knows you’re there.”

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