By Jann Wiswall
Business owners in the village of Ellicottville will soon be receiving copies of the zoning ordinance related to sandwich board signs, along with a letter from Mayor Charlie Coolidge asking for cooperation and compliance.
Coolidge and the Village Board have been working for many months to solve problems related to the population growth of the moveable signs on main village street corners.
Existing law permits each building to place one sandwich board sign outside and it must be placed within one foot of the building.
In recent years, however, multiple signs from the same businesses have been showing up on street corners far from the actual business. Coolidge and the board are concerned that they are tripping hazards, plus they make routine maintenance (snow removal and mowing) difficult for village employees and they are unsightly.
As an alternative to such signs and to help visitors find shops, several years ago the village installed maroon and white directional signs to shops at each of the main Village intersections.
In its review of zoning law, the Village Planning Board recommended no changes to existing law except to reduce the maximum size of future signs from 4’ to 3’ tall. Businesses with signs that comply with current law may continue to use them. Only new signs are subject to the new maximum dimensions.
The board acknowledges that much of the problem has to do with the fact that people don’t know the specifics of the law, especially the newer businesses in town.
At its Feb. 8 meeting, the mayor and the board agreed that the law is clear as proposed. The problem is compliance. And the first step toward compliance is to make sure business owners clearly understand the law. The mayor will ask people to voluntarily comply with the law.
The sandwich board issue is only one small part of the full zoning law, which has been under review for many months since the planning board submitted proposed changes for the board’s approval. With two members of the planning board in attendance for the Feb. 8 review, however, the village board was able to ask questions, get answers and make a motion to authorize the board to serve as the lead agency for a State Environmental Quality Review of the law. The board expects to be able to set a public hearing on the proposed changes for its April meeting.
In other business, several board members noted that drivers are still going both ways on Hughey Alley, which has been one way only from Monroe Street to Ellicottville Optical since last summer. Visitors are not the only violators; employees who park behind Washington Street businesses also are traveling both ways.
Department of Public Works chief Harold Morton was asked to look at signage again to see if any improvements can be made. Coolidge said he will talk with Ellicottville police about ticketing violators.
Nussbaumer & Clarke Project Engineer Seth Krull, representing village engineer Mike Smith, reported that progress continues to be made on the village wastewater treatment plant, however, the electrical and general contractors both had requested extensions to the “substantial completion” date until the end of April in order to properly test all systems. The final completion date of May 31 will not change. The board approved the request.
Patra Lowes, who chairs the village’s special events committee, reported that the committee has met with the Ellicottville Chamber of Commerce about the planned Mardi Gras parade on March 12. She said that the Chamber still needs to provide the village with copies of the State DOT permit to close Rt. 219 for the parade. It also needs to provide proof of insurance for the town, fire department and any other organizations that volunteer to manage traffic detours. The board approved the event on the condition that those requirements are met.
Discussion about requiring village residents to use approved trash totes will continue; the board has not yet seen a proposal that outlines procedures, processes, enforcement and related issues for consideration.
However, in its discussion of the 2016-17 budget, board members pointed out that purchase of totes by the Village for residents was not budgeted. Coolidge acknowledged that fact, saying he didn’t think the board would be able to find the funds. He said the most important next step is to get residents’ feedback on the subject. There was no further discussion about how totes would be paid for.
The 2016-17 draft budget shows total appropriations of nearly $1.9 million for the general fund and sewer and water departments. No tax increase is proposed. A public hearing on the budget will be held at the next village board meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, March 14 at 6 p.m. in the village/town hall.