Business owners in the Town of DeWitt reacted strongly to a controversial proposal to regulate the size and nature of window signs.
Mike Lazar, planning board chair, and Dick Robb, commissioner of development and operations, took comments and answered questions from a crowd of about 40 at the fifth of six informational meetings on proposed zoning code changes.
While the opening presentation highlighted a number of changes in the DeWitt zoning and ordinance code, most of the commentary at the May 30 meeting concerned newly drafted regulations on business signs.
Robb told the crowd that the meeting was meant as an open question-and-answer forum, and that notes and records of the meeting would be given to the town's zoning update committee, an eight-member committee made up of elected officials, including Lazar.
Mel Rubenstein, who has operated a business on Erie Boulevard since 1965, was the first to address the issue of window signs. As the recent zoning code update allows signs to appear on up to 10 percent of a building's fa ade, and on 25 percent of each window, Rubenstein suggested that there be a separate regulation specific to window space, and that the maximum area allowed for signage be represented in a whole number rather than a percent.
Tom Karkowski, who owns a computer store at Lyndon Corners, spoke out against a section of the proposed signage code that counts any inventory that is visible from outside the building as a sign.
"My problem with the code is that it regulates what we do on the inside of our building," Karkowski said. "I feel like it is almost a violation of my constitutional rights."
Lazar said that the overall purpose of the code change is to give individual business owners flexibility to decide how they want to use their allotted sign space, and that the purpose of the new changes was to have a "face of the town that is not gaudy."