Planning Board asked to reverse course on LED sign

The Red Hook Village board has asked the planning board to rescind its June 14 approval of a proposed new Sunoco sign in the heart of the village because of multiple violations of the zoning code, according to Mayor Ed Blundell.

“When you violate zoning codes, you are thwarting the intentions for the future of the village, how it should look. The Planning Board is autonomous. The Village Board does not direct or control them, but we look for a way to work within protocol and guidelines,” Blundell said when contacted by the Observer. “We respectfully requested that they rescind their findings and revisit the case again.”

A zoning attorney is still reviewing the details of the case and working directly with the applicant NW Signs.

The issue first came to light in the Red Hook Observer’s June 20 article, “First LED sign coming to Red Hook”. The article reported that after the village’s zoning enforcement officer said the original sign at the former Getty station pre-dated the codes and was grandfathered in, the village planning board had approved a new, larger and internally illuminated LED sign to take its place.

The argument of an existing sign being grandfathered into the code is not relevant in this case, Blundell added. “We can’t replace a non-conforming sign with another non-conforming sign,” he said.

According to Blundell, one of the main concerns is the fact that the new sign is internally lit.

Village zoning law on internal lighting dates back to the days when neon signs were found unattractive and unwelcome to the visual appeal of Red Hook, he said. In addition, the zoning codes specify that lighting is “cone-directed,” so it won’t infringe on neighboring properties. LED lighting is not specifically addressed in the code.

Other code issues include the restriction of sign messaging to be, at most, 15 square feet with the maximum sign height of 10 feet. The approved sign exceeds both significantly: it is 35 square feet in size and about 16 feet tall.

“Our goal is to create a walkable, attractive village,” said Blundell. “Signs out of code have no place. We want to make sure this does not happen again in any shape or form.”

Planning Board Chair Everett Pearsall did not respond to a request for comment by press time. The next village board meeting was scheduled for July 2 and the planning board meets on Thursday, July 12 at 7pm.

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