Oswego Seeks Permanent Solution To Rash of Temporary Signs

OSWEGO, NY – Following several complaints regarding the plethora of signs advertising everything from yards sales, church bazaars, missing pets and everything in between city councilors are looking for a way solve the problem.

At Monday night’s Planning and Development Committee meeting, Tony Leotta, city engineer, requested a discussion regarding proposed regulations for temporary signs.

“The Mayor’s Office has received citizen complaints about the proliferation of temporary signs at various locations in the city that provide distraction and an unsightly appearance of the city,” Leotta said.

He offered a list of proposed regulations for temporary signs. They include:

  • Temporary non-profit and special event signs may be placed in public space only after approval by the Common Council.
  • Temporary event signs shall be placed no earlier than two weeks prior to the actual event.
  • Temporary event signs shall be no larger than six square feet in area per side with the phone number of the sponsor on the sign.

A single temporary event sign shall be placed only in one of the four following locations:

  1. The median area located between the east and west lanes of Route 104 at the Forks of the Road intersection (near American Legion Park)
  2. The public space between Route 104 and East Bridge Street just west of East Tenth Street
  3. The median area of New York State Route 481 located just north of the entrance of St. Luke’s Nursing Home
  4. The public space located at the northeast corner of West First and Utica streets between the sidewalk and the wooden fence (set back three feet minimum from the sidewalk)

According to Leotta, some options to be considered are:

There would be a charge of $1 per square foot for each temporary sign.

Temporary signs must be removed no later than three days following the actual event. Otherwise, temporary signs not removed following the event will be removed by the city at a charge of $25 per sign payable by the sponsor of the event.

The temporary signs would not be for out of town businesses, Leotta said. “They’d be just for local non-profits and special events,” he said.

It is an option, if the council wants to charge specific groups, such as non-profits, he said.

Council President Ron Kaplewicz suggested re-thinking the proposed cost.

“It may be a bit too much for some groups,” he said.

“Who is going to pick these up (if the sponsors don’t)? Because right now, the city look horrendous. There are signs on telephone poles and all over. I’ve made complaints about them but they are still there – to this day,” Councilor Shawn Walker said.

Anyone who puts in an application for a sign has to put their name and number on the sign for contact information, Council Eric VanBuren said.

“Once we get a policy established, word will get out and organizations will comply as long as there is a standard policy,” Leotta said.

City Clerk Barb Sugar is also Principal of Trinity Catholic School.

They have been putting up signs for things such as their craft show about four weeks in advance. That is so they can attract enough vendors. If they are forced to go by the proposals stricter timeframe, they might not be able to get enough people involved to hold an event, she told the committee.

Not long ago, she said she was in a community that had an electronic sign that scrolled a listing of community events in a central location.

She did a little research into the matter and such a device would run upwards of $20,000.

“But it’s a way to clean up the city. The pros to it is that it eliminates all these other little signs. The cons include you don’t see that sign (for a specific event) every time when you drive by. Something does have to be done. But, I don’t know if what you are proposing now is a perfect, perfect answer,” she said.

She also cautioned against allowing too many signs (in the proposed locations) because it would detract from the efforts of Project Bloom and others who plant flowers in those areas.

Assistant City Attorney Tom Reynolds suggested having a range for possible fines.

“That way, based on the circumstances, if it was harmless enough, it would allow the city some leeway in dealing with violators,” he said.

The committee took no action on it Monday night. But will take all the comments under consideration and continue to look into the matter.