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Store's anti-Cuomo banner violates code, officials say

The owner of Roger's Frigate, an ice cream

The owner of Roger's Frigate, an ice cream shop in Port Jefferson Village, has hung an anti-Cuomo sign outside his store. The shop, shown here on Friday, May 23, 2020, has run afoul of the village's sign code numerous times in recent years. Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The flavor of the day at a Port Jefferson ice cream shop is im-peach.

But the store's latest attempt at political commentary may draw another scoop of legal problems with village officials.

Port Jefferson plans to cite Roger's Frigate with violating the village sign code if it doesn't remove a 60-square-foot banner calling for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's impeachment. It's the fourth time in recent years that the store has been accused of breaking village law.

Port Jefferson village attorney Brian Egan said store owner George Wallis never bothered to apply for a permit before erecting the sign last week. Wallis will be served with a summons to appear in village court if he doesn't remove the banner by Wednesday, Egan said.

"He understands what the requirements are under the sign code,” Egan said.

The village could ask a judge to fine Wallis up to $2,000 for each day he violated the code, and order him to remove the sign, Egan said.

Roger's Frigate general manager Roger Rutherford said the sign was put up to protest the state "pause" that bars nonessential businesses from operating during the coronavirus epidemic. Rutherford, who is president of the village's Business Improvement District, said the rules are hurting small stores such as his and may force some to close permanently.

The store reopened in mid-May after being closed for two months, Rutherford said.

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“We’re going to leave the sign up there because we want the governor to hear our message," Rutherford said.

Rutherford said graffiti was spray-painted on the banner Wednesday. Suffolk police are seeking a woman seen in a video of the incident.

The store was cited in January with violating the sign law for a banner supporting President Donald Trump. A hearing on those charges was suspended when village court was temporarily closed because of the pandemic, Egan said.

Wallis refuses to seek a permit because he believes Port Jefferson officials object to his political views, Rutherford said.

 "We know that the village is not going to allow us to put up something of that size, especially with a message of that kind, " Rutherford said.

Egan said the code is "content-neutral" and regulates only a sign's size and the types of material that may be used.

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