Hempstead Town Hall Plaza is at 1 Washington St.

Hempstead Town Hall Plaza is at 1 Washington St. Credit: J.C. Cherubini, 2011

The Hempstead Town Board yesterday unanimously approved an ordinance that bans advertising from utility poles, fences and similar structures, as well as trees.

In addition, signs cannot be attached to vacant structures, nor obstruct the vision of either pedestrians or vehicular traffic. Town highway workers would be authorized to remove any attached signs on public property within the town, officials said.

The new law also allows the town to make a “rebuttable presumption” that the owner of a commercial business, service or trade authorized the attachment. The town would use any information displayed — such as an address, website or phone number — to determine the source of the signs, the ordinance stated.

The owner will face a $250 fine per sign removed and can challenge the penalties in the District Court of Nassau County.

“I think this would go a long way in beautifying our roadways,” town supervisor Kate Murray said after the board meeting, crediting town councilman Gary Hudes with the idea for the legislation.

Later in the meeting, Franklin Square resident Felix Procacci, a regular critic at board sessions, questioned the accuracy of previously released numbers for the town animal shelter’s trap, neuter and release program for feral cats.

Cheryl Petri, executive assistant of the Department of General Services, which oversees the shelter, acknowledged the data was erroneous and attributed the mistake to “miscommunication.”

Petri said the animal shelter has spayed or neutered 801 cats so far this year and spayed or neutered 1,433 cats in 2011 — a total of 2,234 feral cats since the program began last spring.

Above: Hempstead Town Hall