By Ronald Craft;
I would like to comment on the recent Lewiston Village Board’s Article in the Lewiston Sentinal regarding the Board favoring ‘ambiance’ over ‘signage safety’ – which includes the same reasoning for a ban on sandwich boards – to be appalling.
These same board members continually market the village as a great walking community, a great place to visit and promote the need for retail on Center Street, yet their actions show otherwise.
New York State’s mandate for a more safety effective pedestrian yield sign seems appropriate considering the ‘near misses’ I, and a number of fellow pedestrians, have had — not to mention a recent pedestrian fatality.
On the matter of sandwich fact: Sandwich Boards are a very cost effective way to advertise for a small business. I have researched signage laws covering sandwich boards with regards to free speech. It just so happens The Institute For Justice, a group of [pro bono] lawyers who filed suit on behalf of a couple in Sacramento, California, who placed a board outside of their place of business and were found in non compliance.
The institute prevailed; the Federal Court ruled the ban on sandwich boards infringed on the freedom of speech, curtailed their business operation and ruled that areas in front of their place of business was a public forum. It also ruled the village’s justification for the code regarding aesthetics and safety was not justified.
I may also add, the State of New York put out a reprinted pamphlet, in 2011 — namely the ‘Municipal Control of Signs.” The pamphlet highlighted two court cases stating “that prohibiting portable signs is in violation of the First Amendment and discriminatory in nature,” when all other signs may be allowed such as estate and real estate signs.
I also question the added burden to some business owners to meet questionable ‘historical significance’ when building, when others, within eyesight, have been excluded. I am thoroughly disgusted at the Village Fathers complete disregard for the safety and welfare of not only pedestrians, but the need for retail to use a cost effective method to advertise their products.
I would rather the Village Fathers direct the correction of ambiance to the areas of dead grass on Center Street, the removal of dead trees and dog droppings.
The idea of their taking over Center St. from the state is another ‘Pie in the Sky’ idea.
It would be an added expense. They need to consider the fact we are about to have a town tax added to residents already burdened with a village tax. This coupled with the oncoming reassessment and the minimum wage going up to $9.00 per hour and the future possibility of $15 per hour may spell disaster for residential home owners and local businesses.
In the end I would suggest Village Fathers start looking after the welfare of pedestrians, home owners and entrepreneurs, instead of a select few who have a debatable view of ambiance and historical significance.